Review of the Technical Deficiencies in the University of California, Davis Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Replacement Project dated October 1996
Comments submitted by
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
G. Fred Lee & Associates
27298 E. El Macero Drive
El Macero, CA 95618-1005
As part of the University of California, Davis (UCD) L. Vanderhoef administration's efforts to continue to have UCD manage its own campus wastewaters, a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was developed for the purpose of evaluating the potential public health and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of a new campus wastewater treatment plant. This treatment facility would continue to discharge the partially treated campus wastewaters to Putah Creek. This creek is, during low-flow conditions, a wastewater effluent dominated stream that has designated beneficial uses, including fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife, domestic water supply, groundwater recharge, contact and non-contact recreation, etc. Putah Creek is used for contact (swimming) and non-contact (kayaking) recreation, fishing and other activities. Waters from this Creek also recharge groundwaters in the area, and, therefore, residual pollutants in the wastewater discharge can cause groundwater pollution.
Flawed Interpretation of Current NPDES Permit Wastewater Discharge Requirements
In 1992, the University of California, Davis was issued an updated NPDES permit governing the discharge of its current campus wastewater treatment plant effluent to Putah Creek, which requires the effluent not impair the designated beneficial uses of the Creek. The draft EIR presents unreliable information on the impacts of the current wastewater treatment plant effluent discharge to the Creek on the designated beneficial uses of the Creek. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration claimed in the draft EIR that the current treatment facilities are not in violation of the current NPDES discharge permit, this claim is not factual. In fact, there is substantial evidence that UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek have been and continue to be in violation of its current NPDES permit requirements for protection of the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Of particular concern is the discharge of toxic materials to the Creek.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration makes the highly distorted and inappropriate claim in this draft EIR that the current NPDES permit requirement set forth as,
The discharge shall not cause the following conditions in Putah Creek: dissolved oxygen concentrations to fall below 5.0 mg/L; visible oil, grease, scum, foam, floating or suspended matter; concentrations of any materials that are deleterious to human, animal, aquatic, or plant life; aesthetically undesirable discoloration; fungus, slimes, or other objectionable growths; bottom deposits; an increase in turbidity by more than 10% over background levels, alteration of the normal ambient pH by more than 0.5 unit, or an increase[in] the normal ambient temperature by more than 5 degrees F."
allows the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration to discharge toxic substances to Putah Creek that are adverse to the beneficial uses of the Creek waters since the current NPDES permit does not specifically list in the permit all possible toxic constituents present in UCD's wastewater discharges to the Creek with a specific numeric limitation on the amount of constituent that can be discharged. This approach is, at best, a highly naive, self-serving interpretation of the current NPDES permit requirements by the L. Vanderhoef administration which enables this administration to claim that its current wastewater discharges to the Creek are not in violation of the current permit requirements.
The draft EIR acknowledges that the current wastewater treatment plant effluent that is discharged to Putah Creek has been repeatedly toxic to some forms of aquatic life since 1991. While it is claimed by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration that this toxicity does not represent a violation of its NPDES permit, in fact, a proper interpretation of this permit requires that no toxic discharges occur to Putah Creek from the wastewater treatment plant. Any such discharge is a violation of the existing permit conditions.
In addition to violating the permit, the repeated toxicity of UCD's wastewater effluent that is discharged to Putah Creek which has been found to be occurring since 1991 is detrimental to the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in the draft EIR attempts to downplay the significance of this effluent toxicity and have found a consultant who they claim supports their position that the effluent toxicity is of limited significance to Putah Creek water quality, a proper review of this issue would show that the true experts in the field would, with few exceptions, conclude that UCD's effluent toxicity represents toxicity to aquatic life in Putah Creek. In accord with the permit conditions, by now UCD should have developed an effective control program for this toxicity through the use of TIEs and TREs. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's approach toward controlling the toxicity through establishing local limits for a few regulated chemicals that are discharged to the campus sewerage system has been and will continue to be ineffective in preventing toxic conditions from occurring in the treatment plant effluent discharged to Putah Creek. If the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration cannot control toxicity in its effluent by December 31, 1997, it should be required to immediately construct additional treatment works to stop the discharge of the toxic effluent and thereby comply with permit conditions. As an alternative, it should immediately develop an alternative campus wastewater management approach involving the discharge of the campus wastewaters to the City of Davis' wastewater collection system.
UCD's current and past administrations' approach to managing toxic chemicals in cooling tower blowdown waters by discharge to the environment, i.e. the Arboretum Waterway, has caused and will continue to cause toxicity in Putah Creek. While the discharge of cooling tower blowdown and its associated toxic chemicals is reported to have stopped in April 1996, the Arboretum Waterway has accumulated toxic chemicals in the water and sediments that, when pumped to Putah Creek, could be toxic to aquatic life. There is need for the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration to clean up the Arboretum Waterway waters and sediments so that there is no toxicity to aquatic life and wildlife within the Waterway, and so that any discharge of waters from the Waterway to Putah Creek is non-toxic and is otherwise non-detrimental to Putah Creek water quality.
Thus far, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has failed to properly monitor, in accord with its NPDES stormwater discharge permit, the hazardous and deleterious chemicals present in stormwater runoff from UCD that could be detrimental to Putah Creek water quality. The stormwater discharge includes UCD's construction of a stormwater conveyance channel through the top of its former campus Landfill No. 3, thereby exposing wastes to washing by stormwater runoff. This landfill has received hazardous and radioactive wastes from the UCD campus and from the UCD/DOE LEHR national Superfund site located on the UCD campus.
While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has failed to adequately and reliably monitor its wastewater discharges from the various permitted discharge points in order to assess the impacts on Putah Creek water quality, it is clear from the limited data provided in the draft EIR, that some of the other campus discharges to Putah Creek are also likely causing toxicity to aquatic life within the Creek in violation of the permit conditions. The reported concentrations of some constituents in the discharge are factors of 10 to 15 higher than those that have been found to be toxic to aquatic life.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has been documented as following a recalcitrant polluter approach in managing its campus wastes. Rather than following the approach that a university that claims its teaching and research activities are in the forefront of environmental quality protection should follow in being in the forefront of managing its own wastes, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has been and proposes to continue to manage the campus wastes in such a manner as to just get by minimal regulatory requirements as interpreted by staff at the Central Valley Regional Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB). This Board and staff, however, have not been requiring that UCD strictly adhere to the permit conditions issued to the University by the Board. Mr. William Crooks, former executive officer of the CVRWQCB, at the November 18, 1996 hearing devoted to his termination arising out of complaints filed by the public arising from the failure of the Board to force UCD and other dischargers to comply with NPDES permit requirements and Basin Plan objectives acknowledged that the CVRWQCB has not been enforcing regulations for UCD's discharges.
Flawed Economic Analysis of Alternative Wastewater Management Approaches
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration claims, without providing support, that the costs of conveying the campus wastewaters to the City of Davis sewerage system would be prohibitively expensive. This approach would allow the UCD campus wastewaters to be treated in the City's new treatment works and discharged to an area that is far less sensitive to residual constituents in the treated effluent than Putah Creek. This, however, is another of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's flawed, superficial economic analyses that fails to consider the fact that ultimately if UCD's wastewaters are treated to the degree necessary to fully comply with the current NPDES permit as well as future permits that will likely be issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board that the costs of treatment of these wastewaters will be greatly increased from those projected at this time.
A proper economic analysis will likely show that it is cheaper for the people of California, who must pay for UCD's waste management activities, to construct the necessary sewerage system that would convey the campus wastewaters to the City of Davis sewerage system. The public has become sufficiently concerned about the inadequate management of campus wastes by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration so that they will likely ultimately force the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to require the full protection of Putah Creek's beneficial uses from UCD's inadequately managed campus wastewaters. The past and current practice of passing the costs of inadequate treatment before discharge to Putah Creek on to the users of the Creek will not be allowed to continue. If the recently reconstituted Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board does not on its own initiative require the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and any future administrations to fully protect the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek, then the public will likely take the necessary action to see that the current Basin Plan objectives and NPDES permit requirements are fully implemented by UCD. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration will no longer be able to pass the costs of inadequate waste treatment/management on to the public who wish to use the aquatic resources of Putah Creek. These costs will have to be incorporated into a proper economic analysis of alternative approaches for management of the UCD campus wastewaters.
Flawed Cumulative Impact Evaluation
In the winter of 1995, the public asked the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to require that the University of California, Davis support a third-party, independent review of the cumulative impacts of UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek. The CVRWQCB supported the public's request and issued a request to the L. Vanderhoef administration to support the funding of a "Blue Ribbon Panel" to independently conduct the cumulative impact investigation. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration rejected the CVRWQCB's request to support a third-party, independent "Blue Ribbon Panel" who would reliably evaluate the cumulative impacts of UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Instead, without public involvement or knowledge, a behind-the-scenes deal was arranged between the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and the CVRWQCB chairman, where the L. Vanderhoef administration was given permission without knowledge of the public to hire an EIR firm to conduct the cumulative impact studies in conjunction with the administration but without public involvement or participation. Further, the University of California, Davis hired two individuals suggested by the CVRWQCB chairman who would work as consultants to the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in developing the cumulative impact studies. A critical review of the qualifications of the EIR firm and these consultants shows they are not qualified to conduct a credible review of the cumulative impacts of UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff on Putah Creek water quality.
The draft EIR presents as an appendix the cumulative impact report. A review of this report shows the cumulative impact studies were not conducted in a technically valid manner. The so-called mass balance approach used, in which the concentrations of a few regulated chemicals were "modeled," will obviously not address the issues of concern to the public who originally called for the cumulative impact evaluation. This approach ignores the fact that there are large numbers of unregulated hazardous and deleterious chemicals present in UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff that can be detrimental to Putah Creek water quality. It also ignores interactions among regulated chemicals and between regulated and unregulated chemicals that can cause adverse impacts on Putah Creek water quality. The so-called cumulative impact study report failed to consider several of the key areas of concern to the public such as the sanitary quality of Putah Creek waters for contact recreation, aquatic life toxicity, excessive bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals within aquatic life tissue, and the recharge of hazardous substances discharged to Putah Creek by UCD waste management practices that lead to groundwater pollution near the Creek.
It is clear that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, members of the UCD staff involved in the cumulative impact studies, members of the EIR firm staff involved in these studies, and the consultants to UCD on these studies, assuming they were involved in a critical review of the cumulative impact report, do not have sufficient understanding of elementary aquatic chemistry, aquatic toxicology, and water quality to conduct credible cumulative impact evaluations for multiple wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's self-serving cumulative impact study report must be judged as a non-credible evaluation of the cumulative impacts of past and current UCD wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek.
Before any further wastewater discharges to Putah Creek are allowed, a credible, technically valid cumulative impact study should be conducted by individuals knowledgeable in the topic area. This study should be funded by the University of California, Davis as part of renewal of its current wastewater treatment plant NPDES permit, which expires in 1997, in order to reliably determine the new permit conditions and the associated monitoring to verify that the permit conditions are, in fact, fulfilled. This cumulative impact study should, as originally proposed, be independent of the University of California, Davis and of the CVRWQCB, both of which have vested interests in proving that their past and current activities have been protective of Putah Creek. These cumulative impact studies should be conducted in a full, public peer review arena on behalf of the public. No further behind-the-scenes deals should be made between the CVRWQCB and its staff and the L. Vanderhoef administration on these and other activities related to regulating UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek.
Unreliable Assessment of Stormwater Runoff Water Quality Impacts
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has, thus far, failed to conduct a reliable assessment of the water quality impacts of campus stormwater runoff-associated constituents on Putah Creek water quality. An area of particular concern is the fact that a past UCD administration cut a large stormwater drainage channel through the top of a campus landfill that contains hazardous and radioactive wastes from the campus and the LEHR facility. This channel drains stormwater from some parts of the campus through the exposed wastes in the bottom of the channel into Putah Creek. While this problem has been known to be a potential threat to Putah Creek water quality since the 1980s, thus far the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration or the CVRWQCB as well as other regulatory agencies have not stopped this discharge as should have occurred when it was first discovered and have not developed a credible stormwater runoff monitoring program to determine if hazardous and radioactive wastes and other constituents derived from the exposed wastes in the bottom of the channel are adversely impacting the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Recently, at the insistence of the public (Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee-DSCSOC) who are potentially impacted by stormwater runoff from the UCD campus through this channel, the UCD/DOE LEHR national Superfund site remediation project managers (regulatory agencies) have ordered UCD and DOE to develop a credible stormwater monitoring and management program to prevent degradation of Putah Creek water.
The draft EIR brings to light to the public that UCD's past management of cooling tower blowdown which involved discharge to the Arboretum Waterway has caused an accumulation of hazardous and otherwise deleterious chemicals in the Waterway waters/sediments that associated with current stormwater runoff have the significant potential to be adverse to Putah Creek water quality. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration must immediately be required to stop this pollution of Putah Creek through proper clean-up of the Arboretum Waterway waters and sediments. From the information provided in the draft EIR, it appears that the Arboretum Waterway is another of the over half a dozen toxic hot spots on the UCD campus that have arisen from UCD's past inappropriate waste management practices that must now be cleaned up at high cost to the public.
Evaluation of Projected Impacts of New Wastewater Treatment Facilities
A critical review of the draft EIR shows the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's proposed discharge of wastewaters from the proposed new campus wastewater treatment plant will not be adequately treated to protect the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. The residual constituents in the treated wastewater will still be a threat to contact recreation, propagation of fish and other aquatic life, and other aquatic resources associated with the Creek.
This draft EIR does not adequately and reliably present full disclosure information on the potential impacts of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's proposed continued management of the campus wastewaters involving partial treatment of the wastewaters and discharge to Putah Creek on the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek waters. The proposed treatment works will still produce an effluent that could readily be toxic to aquatic life in Putah Creek, represent a threat of disease to those who contact recreate in Putah Creek, and continue to pollute groundwaters with hazardous chemicals through the inherent recharge of Putah Creek waters. This draft EIR does not conform to minimum CEQA requirements for a credible EIR that adequately and reliably discusses the potential public health and environmental impacts of the proposed wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. Also this draft EIR does not provide adequate or reliable mitigation measures for addressing those few adverse impacts that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration acknowledges will occur through the development of a new, expanded campus wastewater treatment plant that will discharge its effluent to Putah Creek.
This draft EIR contains numerous significant technical errors on key issues that cause many of the sections to present invalid information on potential impacts and the ability of proposed mitigation approaches to protect public health and the environment. It is clear the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, those on the UCD staff who prepared and reviewed this draft EIR, and the UCD consultants do not have the technical competence to develop or were not permitted to develop a credible EIR describing potential impacts of UCD campus wastewater-associated constituents on Putah Creek water quality.
There are also several instances where important issues are listed as "less than significant" when, in fact, the discharges that are claimed to be less than significant will be in violation of the current and likely future NPDES permit conditions governing this discharge. Further, many of the so-called "mitigation measures" will not be effective in preventing further violations of the NPDES permit and adverse impacts to public health and the environment. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should stop its current practice of having its own staff or EIR firms develop EIRs, which are then self-certified by the L. Vanderhoef administration as a credible discussion of issues that should be covered in a full disclosure EIR.
This draft EIR represents yet another waste of public funds that has occurred by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration associated with its ill-conceived and implemented waste management activities. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration can again, as it has done in the past, self-certify this EIR as complying with CEQA, such certification would be a travesty to all of those concerned with the development of reliable, credible environmental assessments of the proposed projects.
If the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration persists with its proposed development of a new campus wastewater treatment plant, then this administration will basically have to start over in developing a credible EIR covering the potential impacts of its wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek. This EIR should be developed under the supervision of a three member, technically competent, independent panel of experts whose responsibility will be to ensure the redraft of the EIR is a credible, unbiased discussion of the potential public health and environmental impacts of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's proposed approach for managing its campus wastewaters. This panel should conduct its affairs in a full, public peer review arena, where all interested parties and stakeholders can, to the extent they wish, be active participants in the development of the EIR.
Qualifications to Undertake this Review
Dr. G. Fred Lee is president of G. Fred Lee & Associates, an environmental consulting firm located in El Macero, California.
For 30 years, Dr. G. Fred Lee held university graduate level teaching and research positions at several major US universities, including a Distinguished Professorship of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1989, Dr. G. Fred Lee assumed full-time consulting activities through G. Fred Lee & Associates.
Dr. G. Fred Lee holds a PhD degree from Harvard University in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Sciences and a Master of Science in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina. He obtained a bachelors degree from San Jose State University.
Dr. G. Fred Lee has conducted over $5 million in research on various aspects of water quality and solid and hazardous waste management. He has published over 650 papers and reports on this work. He has served as an advisor to numerous governmental agencies and industries in the US and other countries on water quality and solid and hazardous waste management issues. <br"
Dr. G. Fred Lee has extensive experience in developing approaches that work toward protection of water quality without significant unnecessary expenditures for chemical constituent control. He has been active in developing technically-valid, cost-effective approaches for the evaluation and management of chemical constituents in domestic and industrial wastewater discharges, contaminated sediments, and urban stormwater runoff since the 1960s.
Further information on Dr. Lee's experience and expertise in water quality evaluation and management is provided in this discussion.
Review of the Draft EIR
The University of California, Davis (UCD) L. Vanderhoef administration prepared a draft environmental impact report covering the replacement of the campus wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). This is another of the self-serving EIR's that have been developed by the L. Vanderhoef administration where the staff or consultants working on behalf of the staff develop an EIR and then the University of California, Davis certifies the EIR. Based on past experience, such as in connection with the University of California, Davis "west" landfill (campus landfill No. 4) closure and development of landfill No. 5, UCD's draft and final self-serving EIR's are highly biased documents that do not adequately nor reliably conform with CEQA requirements in providing full disclosure of potential environmental impacts of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's proposed projects that potentially impact public health and the environment.
Page 1-1 states that this draft EIR is prepared to satisfy CEQA requirements; in fact, it falls far short of providing reliable information on the potential impacts of this project on public health and the environment.
On the same page as the second bulleted item, the statement is made that this EIR is designed to inform the public and others about the possible environmental impacts of the proposed project. This EIR falls far short of reliably providing information that discusses the potential impacts of current wastewater disposal practices and of this proposed project.
The third objective of this EIR is listed as "to enable The Regents to consider environmental consequences when deciding whether to approve the project." As drafted now, this EIR provides an unreliable information base upon which the Regents can decide whether the University of California, Davis should continue to operate its campus wastewater treatment plant with its discharge to Putah Creek rather than developing a sewerage system in which the campus wastewaters would be transported to the City of Davis' sewerage system and receive treatment in the new wastewater treatment facilities. The treated effluent developed from these facilities will be discharged to a location which is much more suitable for the receipt of wastewaters than Putah Creek near the UCD campus.
On page 1-2, third paragraph, the statement is made that the draft EIR reflects an "independent" judgement of the campus regarding the impacts, etc. This is not an independent judgement, but in fact, is a self-serving document designed to support a preconceived adopted position that the University of California, Davis should continue to manage its own wastewaters. As discussed herein, the treated wastewaters produced in the new proposed treatment plant will continue to be detrimental to the public who wish to use Putah Creek for recreational and other purposes.
Page 1-3, first paragraph, discusses that the long-range development plan for the University of California, Davis campus calls for significant, continued expansion of the facilities and population associated with UCD. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, however, has continued to ignore the fundamental problem with this proposed approach for managing wastewaters and other campus waste associated with the continued expansion of the University of California, Davis. The L. Vanderhoef administration is proposing to continue to add additional residual waste components to Putah Creek associated with providing only minimal treatment which, thus far, does not properly and reliably consider the impacts of the residual constituents in the treated wastewaters on Putah Creek water quality.
As discussed herein, the L. Vanderhoef administration has thus far refused to reliably monitor the impacts of its current wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The monitoring that has been done by others shows that there has been consistent violations of the discharge requirements associated with toxics (ammonia). Based on this situation which has developed over the past several years, it is clear that the L. Vanderhoef administration is a recalcitrant polluter that does the minimum necessary to just get by the inappropriate approaches that are being used by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) staff in evaluating the potential impacts of UCD's wastewater discharges on the beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
On pages 1-1 through 1-6, there is a discussion of the scope of this EIR. In connection with the development of this proposed EIR, the author responded to a request for the issues that should be addressed in a credible EIR for a project of this type. CEQA Section 15151 states,
"An EIR should be prepared with a sufficient degree of analysis to provide decision makers with information which enables them to make a decision which intelligently takes account of environmental consequences. An evaluation of the environmental effects of proposed projects need not be exhaustive, but the sufficiency of an EIR is to be reviewed in the light of what is reasonably feasible. Disagreement among experts does not make an EIR inadequate, but the EIR should summarize the main points of disagreement among experts. The courts have looked not for perfection but for adequacy, completeness, and a good faith effort at full disclosure."
Further, CEQA Guidelines, Section 15126(d) requires that an EIR,
"...describe a range of reasonable alternatives to the project or to the location of the project, which could feasiblely attain the basic objectives of the project..."
and that the discussion,
"...focus on alternatives capable of eliminating any significant adverse environmental effects or reducing them to a level of insignificance."
The proponent of a project that has potential adverse public health and environmental impacts, such as the proposed wastewater discharges to Putah Creek, should provide a detailed discussion of a plausible worst-case scenario failure situation where the project proponent discuss:
As documented herein, this draft EIR falls far short of complying with CEQA requirements for full disclosure. It provides a deliberately contrived, biased discussion of issues that superficially, based on how the L. Vanderhoef administration addresses economic issues, appears to be less expensive than following the approach that is typically followed by universities across the US of managing the campus wastewaters by discharge to the local community's wastewater collection and treatment system. The L. Vanderhoef administration in its fundamentally flawed approach toward addressing economic issues ignores the cost to the public of the damaged resource (Putah Creek) that results from its recalcitrant polluter approach toward treating its campus wastewaters to the degree necessary so they can be discharged to Putah Creek without continuing to represent a significant threat to public health and the environment.
Deficiencies in Presenting a Summary of Impacts and Mitigation Measures
On page 2-1 the statement is made that the objective of the project is to protect water quality and aquatic life in Putah Creek. This proposed project will not achieve this objective. UCD's wastewater discharges have been and will continue to be adverse to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek and the groundwaters recharged by the creek.
On the bottom of page 2-3 it mentions that the University of California, Davis' past administrations cut a channel through the top of a campus landfill that contains hazardous and radioactive wastes. It states, "...discharge of water through the landfill is of concern to the Campus." That is a superficial statement. If there was real concern by the L. Vanderhoef administration, the discharge of stormwater through the exposed wastes would have been stopped when the situation was first discovered in the late 1980s. At the time of preparing these comments, the L. Vanderhoef administration has still not conducted a proper evaluation of the impact of allowing campus stormwater to pass through exposed waste in route to Putah Creek.
Table 2-1 which begins on page 2-5 and continues through 2-40 lists as item 4.1-5 "Continued discharge of treated effluent to the South Fork of Putah Creek could result in potential water quality degradation because of increased discharges of BOD, TSS, and ammonia in WWTP effluent." The statement is made, "The Campus shall continue to monitor effluent discharge, in compliance with WDR Order No. 92-040...". It also states, "If the effluent limits established in WDR Order No. 92-040 are exceeded, and action is required by the CVRWQCB, the Campus shall make modifications to the pretreatment program to ensure compliance with established effluent limits." It states, "No additional mitigation is required." This is one of the most significant, grossly superficial, highly inappropriate statements contained in this EIR. The basic problem that exists is that, thus far, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has not required the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration to reliably and adequately monitor its effluent's discharge characteristics and the receiving waters for the impact of this discharge.
It is important to note that the approach that was used by UCD to establish whether the existing wastewater treatment plant could accept additional toxicant and hydraulic loading associated with the discharge of UCD's west landfill leachate polluted groundwaters to the campus sewerage system was technically invalid. The approach for developing local limits at UCD is arbitrary and largely without technical merit as it relates to protecting Putah Creek from adverse impacts of hazardous and deleterious chemicals that pass through the treatment works.
The L. Vanderhoef administration has a recalcitrant polluter approach towards protecting Putah Creek water quality where it discharges pollutants to the maximum extent possible to just get by the current regulatory staff and Board minimum requirements. These requirements are obviously not protective of Putah Creek water quality as has been documented in materials submitted by the author to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board over the past two years. These comments have also been provided to L. Vanderhoef. As documented in an August 8, 1996 letter from the author to Karl Longley, Chairman of the CVRWQCB which was prepared in response to a letter the author received from Mr. Pinkos, Assistant Executive Officer, the CVRWQCB staff, including Mr. Pinkos, do not recognize excessive ammonia concentrations in the University of California, Davis campus wastewater treatment plant discharges to Putah Creek in data appended to his letter that was used in an attempt to show that UCD's wastewater dischargers were in compliance with its discharge permit. He and the other members of the staff involved in the UCD wastewater discharge matters have such a limited understanding of water quality issues as demonstrated by the correspondence provided on the requirements set forth by the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration's discharge of "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwaters to Putah Creek so as to provide for inadequate protection of the beneficial uses of Putah Creek from UCD's mismanagement of its campus wastewaters.
The author has previously pointed out, in correspondence submitted to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, with a copy to L. Vanderhoef, the minimum monitoring program that should be conducted to determine whether potentially toxic constituents in UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek are, in fact, toxic within the creek's waters and thereby are in violation of the CVRWQCB's Basin Plan requirements of no ambient water toxicity in Putah Creek.
The issue of concern with respect to the pollutants of concern in UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant discharges is far more than just BOD, suspended solids and ammonia. There are a wide variety of toxicants present in UCD's wastewater discharges that have to be managed in order to protect the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Thus far, the L. Vanderhoef administration has refused to implement a meaningful monitoring program to detect and manage these toxicants. As long as this situation prevails, UCD will not fulfill the discharge requirements.
The inappropriate approaches that have been used by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in protecting Putah Creek water quality have been exemplified by the former Executive Officer's statement at the September 20, 1996 hearing on chromium issues for UCD's "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwater to Putah Creek where in response to suggestions that the University of California, Davis be required to reliably monitor for aquatic life toxicity in Putah Creek in order to determine whether the discharges of chromium at up to 50 ug/L could cause toxicity in Putah Creek, the Executive Officer claimed that such monitoring would be "precedent setting." The former Executive Officer operated with a 1960s level of understanding and protection involving BOD and suspended solids and did not require that recalcitrant polluters such as the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration conduct the necessary in-stream monitoring to be certain that the discharges were not in violation of the CVRWQCB's Basin Plan requirements for the control of toxicity. These issues are documented in the enclosed Petition and Supplemental Petition that have been filed by the author, as well as the references contained therein, covering the inappropriate approaches that have been used by the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and staff in protecting Putah Creek water from excessive concentrations of hazardous or otherwise deleterious chemicals in UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The attached documents and the references to these documents are an integral part of this statement and should be incorporated into the administrative record for comments on this draft EIR.
It is clear that the current UCD administration cannot be trusted to police its own activities, nor until now can the public rely on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to police the activities of UCD. The failure of the CVRWQCB's Executive Officer and his staff to properly implement protection of receiving waters at many locations including Putah Creek was one of the reasons why the Executive Officer for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Mr. Crooks) was terminated in his position by the Board at the request of Governor Wilson and Secretary Strock. The situation arose from a large number of public groups complaining to the Governor and Secretary Strock about the inadequate protection of the water resources of the Central Valley by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and staff.
On page 2-6, item 4.1-6 states, "Continued discharge of treated effluent into the South Fork of Putah Creek could result in potential water quality degradation because of the presence of toxic pollutants in WWTP effluent." The response to this potential impact is,
"The Campus shall strictly implement the pretreatment program and aggressively enforce local limits to reduce pollutant concentrations and ensure that NPDES permit limits would be met. Implementation of the pretreatment program to ensure that local limits are met will include monitoring, inspection of facilities, education, and enforcement, all as described above in 'Regulatory Setting' and in Appendix E."
Someone not knowledgeable in the topic area and of the recalcitrant polluter behavior of the L. Vanderhoef administration might believe that that approach is a valid approach. Anyone knowledgeable in water quality issues, however, knows that such an approach is not valid. Enforcement of pretreatment requirements can never be relied on to prevent the discharge of toxics. There will be individuals, knowingly or unknowingly, who discharge constituents to the sewer system which then because of the nature of the treatment plant's design and operation will not be able to adequately remove the hazardous or otherwise deleterious constituents, with the result that Putah Creek will be degraded. As discussed below, the L. Vanderhoef administration has admitted, in this draft EIR, to the public for the first time that it has a toxicity problem in it's current discharges that it cannot control. It is obvious that it's pretreatment program is not working and that the L. Vanderhoef administration is not following the requirements set forth in its current discharge permit of controlling aquatic life toxicity in the campus wastewater treatment plant effluent that is discharged to Putah Creek.
Page 2-6, item 4.1-7 carries the same misinformation as item 4.1-6. The same comments apply to the unreliable information presented under Project-Specific Mitigation Measures. Credible toxicity monitoring of Putah Creek waters must be implemented in order to determine whether UCD wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff are adverse to the beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
Page 2.6, item 4.1-8 is concerned with stormwater discharges to Putah Creek where it states under "Mitigation," "The Campus shall apply for and comply with any requirements of an NPDES General Industrial Storm Water permit for the proposed WWTP prior to plant operation." This is more of the highly superficial, unreliable information that the L. Vanderhoef administration is fostering on the public and the Regents of the University of California. In order to examine the credibility of the statement, all one has to do is examine how the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration has implemented the General Industrial Storm Water Permit requirements that exist now for the stormwater discharges to Putah Creek that occur through its third campus landfill located on the southeastern corner of the campus. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has been in significant violation of the General Industrial Stormwater Permit discharge requirements for developing reliable monitoring of the discharge of stormwater through the channel cut through the top of the landfill. The University of California, Davis' previous administrations cut a large channel through the top of this landfill which contains hazardous and radioactive wastes as well as campus wastes. This situation has been known to represent a threat to Putah Creek water quality since the late 1980s. The University of California, Davis administration, however, did not monitor stormwater runoff through the exposed wastes in the bottom of this channel until February 1996. Only then, because of the actions of the public through the Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee (DSCSOC), was the L. Vanderhoef administration forced to initiate a monitoring program for the stormwaters derived from other parts of the campus which passed through exposed wastes into Putah Creek. Even then, the monitoring program conducted by the L. Vanderhoef administration was so inadequate as to be judged inappropriate by the remediation program managers (RPMs) for the LEHR site, as well as the public. The RPMs, at the insistence of the public, have finally forced the University of California, Davis and the Department of Energy to begin to develop a credible stormwater monitoring program for the LEHR site which includes UCD's monitoring of stormwaters from other parts of the campus which pass through the LEHR site. The statement that the campus shall apply for and comply with any requirements of the NPDES General Industrial Stormwater Permit is another superficial, self-serving statement made by the UCD administration in this EIR. The past record shows the superficiality of the approach that this administration uses towards addressing stormwater runoff water quality monitoring.
The author, as part his activities as serving as a US EPA sponsored technical advisor to the DSCSOC (the public) for the UCD/DOE LEHR Superfund site located on the University of California, Davis campus, has recently prepared an extensive discussion of the deficiencies in the current UCD and DOE stormwater monitoring for the LEHR and campus three landfill site areas. A copy of this report, "Development of a Stormwater Runoff Water Quality Evaluation and Management Program for Hazardous Chemical Sites" is appended to these comments. It documents why UCD's statement quoted above about addressing stormwater runoff water quality issues is non-factual.
On page 2-7 is a continuation of item 4.1-8 where various mitigation measures are listed. The issue that is not addressed that should be addressed is adequate monitoring to ensure that stormwater runoff from the UCD campus does not adversely impact the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. As documented in the enclosures to these comments, thus far, the L. Vanderhoef administration has not conducted an adequate/reliable stormwater runoff monitoring program that would be protective of the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Without such a program, there is no possibility of developing reliable mitigation measures associated with the control of hazardous and deleterious chemicals in stormwater runoff from the UCD campus.
Page 2-7, item 4.1-9 states, "Continued discharge of treated effluent from the proposed WWTP could affect groundwater quality due to recharge of additional pollutants into the aquifer from the South Fork of Putah Creek." The level of significance indicated for this potential impact is less than significant and no mitigation is required. This is another of the gross, significant errors made in this EIR. The University of California, Davis' existing wastewater treatment plant has been discharging VOCs in its wastewater effluent to Putah Creek which has, in turn, based on the information available from the LEHR site investigations, resulted in groundwater pollution due to Putah Creek's recharge of groundwaters. This pollution represents a cancer risk greater than the one in one million typically accepted for domestic water supply. This is certainly not less than significant.
The L. Vanderhoef administration has chosen to ignore the significant pollution of groundwaters that is occurring along Putah Creek due to the inadequate treatment of domestic wastewaters at its campus wastewater treatment plant. It appears that this administration plans to continue to pollute groundwaters along Putah Creek through failure to properly address this issue as part of constructing a new wastewater treatment plant. The documentation for this situation is provided in correspondence that the author has provided to the DSCSOC and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and is summarized in the enclosed documents.
Page 2-7, item 4.1-10 states, "Construction and operation of the proposed solids storage basins could result in the potential degradation of groundwater quality." The mitigation measure is that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration will install and monitor groundwater monitoring wells at the proposed wastewater treatment plant as may be required by the CVRWQCB. Again, why does the L. Vanderhoef administration not change its recalcitrant polluter approach to one that is a leader in protection of public health and the environment? The approach of only doing the minimum necessary that is required by the regulatory agency personnel and their interpretation of the regulations, which has been demonstrated to be inappropriate on a number of occasions, has caused the University of California, Davis through its liquid and solid waste management practices to cause significant, widespread pollution of the environment.
The University of California, Davis has constructed four campus landfills, all were claimed by the administration at the time and even now by the L. Vanderhoef administration to be constructed and operated in accord with the minimum requirements of the regulatory agencies. All four of these landfills have polluted groundwaters. Further, the administration is proposing to construct a fifth campus landfill where even its own current landfill dump tender (Mr. Stagner) for landfill No. 4 admitted that the fifth landfill, if constructed as proposed, which meets current CVRWQCB minimum design requirements, will eventually pollute groundwaters.
Meeting minimum regulatory requirements is well-known to not be protective of the environment, especially in the hands of a recalcitrant polluter. What should be done is to install a double composite-lined system with a leak detection system between the two liners underneath the sludge storage areas. This design is readily implementable; it is a standard design for landfills. If this system is installed underneath the sludge management area, then any leakage of sludge leachate from the management area into the underlying groundwater aquifer system could be detected before widespread pollution of groundwaters occurs. The current approach of waiting until the groundwaters are polluted and then trying to detect a leak with monitoring wells is almost certainly going to fail since the leak will result in a plume of limited dimensions as the result of the leak occurring in a limited area compared to the total area involved. Deficiencies in monitoring of groundwaters for leaks of this type are well-established and have been discussed by Cherry et al. (1990) and Lee and Jones-Lee (1994). Basically, the mitigation approach indicated is not reliable and will ultimately result in groundwater pollution by sewage sludge derived constituents.
Page 2-8, item 4.1-12 states, "The proposed WWTP, in conjunction with other permitted wastewater discharges and storm water discharges from the Campus and future Campus growth, could result in cumulative water quality degradation in Putah Creek." The mitigation measures and the 1994 LRDP EIR mitigation measures, as well as the project-specific mitigation measures do not address the cumulative impact issue. In January 1995 the author, as the result of attending a Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing which included an issued devoted to University of California, Davis wastewater discharges to Putah Creek in which the public expressed the concern about cumulative impacts of the various discharges, suggested to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board that a true, third-party, independent panel of knowledgeable experts reporting to the public be appointed to conduct an in-depth, critical, independent review of the cumulative impacts of UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek. This approach was accepted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board as an appropriate approach to follow where the University of California, Davis would fund this "Blue Ribbon Panel" of experts who would conduct this review. In the summer of 1995, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration rejected the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's request to fund this review.
Subsequently, as is documented in correspondence on file with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Chairman of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration concocted a behind-the-scenes deal where UCD would appoint several consultants who would work directly with the administration as advisors to them on cumulative impacts. This cumulative impact evaluation was to be done by an EIR firm which relies on the University for support. This is basically a corrupt approach that has no possibility of providing the public with the independent, third-party review of cumulative impacts for several reasons. First, the impacted public who originally called for the third party independent review is supposed to be the entity to whom the Blue Ribbon Panel reports, not the University of California, Davis who pays for the support of the reviewers as consultants to the University. They are supposed to be consultants to the public, not the University.
The second reason the system will not work is that the public should be actively involved in helping to select the consultants. The consultants who were selected were friends of the Chairman of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. None of them are qualified to address the issues of subtle cumulative impacts of wastewater discharges on the beneficial uses of the receiving waters. This is outside their areas of expertise.
Third, the use of an EIR firm to conduct the cumulative impact review is fundamentally flawed in that it is well-known by professionals in the EIR field that EIR firms cannot reliably, independently report on issues and expect to stay in business as an EIR firm. The EIR field is a fundamentally corrupt field where EIR firms are captive of project proponents. Any EIR firm which tries to report full impacts of projects soon find itself in a position of not having future work. This issue is well known and so prevalent that the author was asked to write a review of it for publication in an American Society of Civil Engineers magazine as part of an Ethics Committee review of the issues. A summary of the author's publication was presented as "Environmental Ethics: The Whole Truth?." A copy of the back-up paper to this summary is appended to this statement.
As discussed herein, the University of California, Davis administration and staff responsible for developing this draft EIR and their consultants, to the extent that the consultant was involved in this issue, do not understand basic water quality issues well enough to assess cumulative impacts of chemicals from multiple discharges/runoff and repeated discharges from the University of California, Davis to Putah Creek. Basically, the University is fostering so-called cumulative impact study results from a study which is in no way a properly conducted cumulative impact evaluation.
A detailed discussion of the fundamentally flawed cumulative impact study presented in Appendix D of this draft EIR is provided in a subsequent section of these comments. This study ignores the basic issues that have to be addressed--namely, whether the cumulative impacts of various constituents, both regulated and unregulated from University discharges and stormwater runoff result in aquatic life toxicity, excessive bioaccumulation, excessive fertilization, significant adverse impacts on the sanitary quality of Putah Creek for contact recreation, etc. None of these issues were reliably addressed in the cumulative impact study reported in this EIR. Basically, the data needed to address these issues are not available. This was suspected when the author first suggested that the cumulative impact "Blue Ribbon Panel" approach be used, where he suggested that the Blue Ribbon Panel's first task would be to define the data needed to properly assess cumulative impacts on Putah Creek water quality by UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff. The Blue Ribbon Panel would then work with the public and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to shepherd the studies that need to be done, the proper reporting of these studies and any follow-up studies that would be needed based on the results of the first round of studies. Ultimately, a credible cumulative impact assessment would be developed. This cannot be done, however, under the conditions of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's recalcitrant polluter approach where the control of the information released on cumulative impacts is presented in an EIR or other document.
With respect to the project-specific mitigations for item 4.1-12, they focus on source control programs to reduce pollutants of concern in cooling tower discharges. Cooling tower discharge is a small part of the cumulative impact issue. There is a wide variety of regulated and unregulated chemicals from various sources of wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff from UCD that have to be addressed. This mitigation measure is more of the superficial discussion of issues that the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration has practiced in this EIR.
Page 2-8, item 4.1-13 states, "Cumulative agricultural and urban development in the region, in conjunction with the proposed WWTP and 1994 LRDP development, could reduce receiving water quality." The statement under the 1994 LRDP EIR mitigation measures does not address the issues raised. First, there is no control over agricultural stormwater runoff issues. Ag is able, without any controls, to discharge hazardous or deleterious constituents. The so-called mitigation measures will not address this issue. What could readily occur is that ag background discharges coupled with UCD's additional discharges could result in toxic conditions where without UCD's discharges to Putah Creek there would be no toxicity.
Further, those familiar with the current implementation of the stormwater management program for both large and small cities know the current approach is not effective in preventing adverse impacts to small streams by stormwater runoff-associated constituents. This is a situation where urban runoff from the City of Davis and other areas in the region may, by itself, be adverse to water quality in Putah Creek. However, when the large loads of residual constituents from the UCD wastewater treatment plant are added to Putah Creek, there could readily be a situation where the cumulative impacts of the various discharges are significantly adverse to Putah Creek. Further, it may ultimately become necessary for UCD as an industrial discharger to provide controls of constituents from its wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff so there are no adverse impacts in combination with the background and other uncontrolled or unregulated discharges that occur.
Statement 4.1-13 is another of the superficial statements that reflects either a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the field with respect to stormwater quality management or is a deliberate distortion on the part of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in providing information that is designed to convince the Regents of the University of the California as well as others that the problems will not be significant. These types of problems could readily be significant and are likely already significant. The proposed expansion of the UCD wastewater treatment plant will aggravate the situation.
Page 2-15, section 4.3-4 states,
"Upset or failure of the proposed WWTP filtration and/or disinfection systems could result in the discharge of biohazardous materials in WWTP effluent in concentrations that could cause illness in individuals ingesting water from the South Fork of Putah Creek."
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in this self-serving statement claims that this is less than significant and no mitigation measures are required. Putah Creek, in the vicinity of where UCD discharges its wastewaters, is intensively used for contact recreation. The author has documented, through photographs, repeated situations where children and young adults are in Putah Creek waters which are heavily impacted by UCD's campus wastewater discharges. The campus wastewaters are treated to a limited degree before discharge through chlorination. It is well-known that chlorination of domestic wastewaters is ineffective in preventing significant human disease due to chlorine resistant organisms that are present in wastewaters, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia and enteroviruses. These organisms are present in sufficient numbers to represent significant human health hazards associated with contact recreation with wastewaters that have received minimal treatment as is currently required by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for UCD's wastewater discharges.
The University of California, Davis campus wastewaters would have significant additional pathogenic organisms in them which would not necessarily be removed in conventional wastewater treatment. Therefore, those participating in contact recreation, which is an appropriate use of Putah Creek, are exposed, because of the limited dilution of the campus wastewaters with Creek waters that occurs, to significant additional hazards. It is inappropriate to discount as insignificant the sanitary quality hazard arising from inadequate treatment of the campus wastewaters that are discharged to Putah Creek. This is another of the significant deficiencies in this draft EIR.
Page 2-25, item 4.4-14 states, "Continued discharge of treated WWTP effluent to the South Fork of Putah Creek could result in acute and chronic exposure of fish to elevated levels of toxic pollutants." The project-specific mitigation measures refer back to 4.1-6. As discussed in connection with a review of that section, this section presents a superficial discussion of issues that does not address the key issues of proper monitoring of Putah Creek for aquatic life toxicity.
Overall, Table 2-1 presents a superficial discussion of potential problems and impacts associated with UCD's continued discharge of its campus wastewaters to Putah Creek. It is clear from this table that this is another of the self-serving EIRs developed by the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration that is designed to superficially comply with CEQA requirements but does not, in fact, address the issues that should be addressed in a properly developed EIR.
Deficiencies in Reliably Describing the Proposed Project
On pages 3-6 and 3-7 the EIR authors mention the problems with ammonia and the need to provide additional treatment for ammonia removal. This is an admission of what has been shown in the LEHR site data on the treatment plant discharges that this discharge has been routinely out of compliance because of excessive ammonia discharges in the treatment plant effluent.
Page 3-7 again lists the project objectives commented on earlier and again the same comments apply to this discussion. The project as proposed, will not achieve a number of these objectives related to water quality protection in Putah Creek.
Page 3-13, Table 3-3, lists, at the bottom, some of the conditions set forth in the current NPDES permit for the campus wastewater treatment plant. These include "...concentrations of any materials that are deleterious to human, animal, aquatic, or plant life;". That means that UCD's current wastewater treatment plant shall not cause toxicity or discharge toxic substances in toxic amounts to Putah Creek. The current Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Basin Plan requires, "waters shall be maintained free of toxic substances in concentrations that produce detrimental physiological responses in human, plant, animal, or aquatic life." Therefore, in order for the treatment plant to be in compliance with this permit, it shall not be toxic at the point of discharge nor cause toxicity in the receiving waters (Putah Creek). Further, it should not cause excessive bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek fish or other aquatic life.
The current NPDES treatment plant permit is presented in Appendix C. Page C-8 states that the University of California, Davis shall ensure that the discharges do not produce in-stream toxicity. A review of the monitoring requirements set forth on pages C-11 to C-13 shows that there is no requirement for effluent or receiving water monitoring for aquatic life toxicity. Therefore, the permit is fundamentally deficient in that in one place it states as a receiving water limitation on page C-8, item 11, "The Discharger shall submit the results of the biotoxicity monitoring program to the Board in accordance with the program schedule." Yet there is no schedule provided for such measurements. This is the kind of doubletalk that has been used by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and its staff in regulating the University of California, Davis.
Page 3-15, Table 3-4, presents "Anticipated Effluent Quality Requirements for Design." There are two aspects of this issue that are of concern. First of all, the total coliform requirements will not be protective for contact recreation and the chlorine residual of a daily maximum of 0.1 mg/L could readily be adverse to fish through toxicity. Further, this table is significantly deficient in failing to discuss the limitations on toxics which is one of the major issues associated with this treatment plant as far as its impact on receiving waters.
Page 3-16, Table 3-5, lists the current University of California, Davis wastewater treatment plant monitoring program. With respect to the effluent monitoring, there is no listing for monitoring of the effluent as is required in the permit. Further, there is no monitoring of aquatic life toxicity in the receiving waters.
Beginning on page 31-8 is a discussion of the proposed new treatment plant. The sand filtration components for this treatment plant will not be adequate to produce an effluent that will not be free of pathogenic organisms that can pass through the ultraviolet disinfection and be a threat to receiving water contact recreation. The requirement to achieve total coliforms of 2.2 MPN/100 ml is not adequate to ensure that enteroviruses and cyst-forming protozoans will not be present in the effluent and represent a threat to those who utilize the receiving waters for contact recreation.
On page 3-20 is a discussion of the proposed sludge handling ponds where it is mentioned that a single Hypalon membrane would be used to contain the liquid sludge components. This system will not prevent groundwater pollution by constituents in the sludge. As discussed earlier, any sludge holding ponds must have a double composite-lined system with a leak detection system between the two liners.
The statement is made on the bottom of page 3-20 and the top of 3-21, "Additional protection of groundwater quality would be provided by the fact that the SSBs would be no more than approximately 15 feet below the surface and well above the seasonal groundwater levels of 30 to 70 feet below the surface." Whoever wrote this section has no understanding of the groundwater pollution that has occurred at UCD. At this time, UCD has at least half a dozen sites on campus where pollution of groundwaters 30 to 70 feet below the surface has occurred from surface-supplied materials. A distance of 15 to 55 feet below the surface is no barrier to groundwater pollution in the UCD area.
Mention is made on biosolids handling on pages 3-20 to 3-21 about the possibility of composting. If such composting is practiced, there will likely be severe odors that will need to be addressed.
Deficiencies in Describing Environmental
Impact and Mitigation Measures
Page 4.1-4, shows that at times, especially in late December - early fall, flows in Putah Creek into which UCD's wastewater discharge will occur will be about the same as the wastewater discharge. Therefore, there will be little dilution of the wastewaters by Putah Creek flow.
Page 4.1-5, third paragraph, discusses the fact that Putah Creek is a groundwater recharge stream, losing about 0.5 cfs per mile to 1.2 cfs per mile during the summer in dry years. It is, therefore, essential that any wastewater discharges to Putah Creek be treated to protect the groundwaters from pollution by recharged waters. As discussed herein, this degree of treatment has not occurred in the past nor is it being achieved at this time.
Page 4.1-7 should have included the potential of groundwater remediation at the LEHR site, involving pumping and treatment and discharge to Putah Creek, either directly or through the campus wastewater treatment plant. This will represent additional flow. While the amount is unknown, it is likely to be substantial, based on the recent results from the UCD/DOE LEHR national superfund site studies.
Page 4.1-8, second paragraph does not accurately describe the groundwater strata underlying the area of the proposed treatment plant. The authors should consult the LEHR site studies for further information in order to properly describe the groundwater system underlying the proposed treatment works.
Page 4.1-11 presents Table 4.1-2, "Background Water Quality in Putah Creek Upstream of Campus Boundary." These studies were done by UCD. They were done incorrectly since inappropriate analytical methods were used. Further, the draft EIR fails to properly present the data that were collected since any credible presentation of data of this type must include the detection limits for the parameters measured. The background water quality studies are more of the kinds of studies and reports generated by UCD personnel which indicate that no one involved in these studies understands water quality issues sufficiently well to do a credible job of investigating water quality associated with UCD's wastewater management practices.
This same problem occurs on page 4.1-12, Table 4.1-3. Whoever developed this table has virtually no understanding of the water quality issues described. Hypereutrophic conditions cannot be reliably described as presented in this table. Further, the change in alkalinity during the summer has to be described in terms of a change from what conditions. Alkalinity is not a measure of hypereutrophic conditions. The definition of hypereutrophic with chlorophyll-a at 100 to 150 ug/L is in error. Hypereutrophic is more properly defined as chlorophyll-a values on the order of 50 ug/L or greater. This is more of the inappropriate water quality work that has been done and continues to be done by UCD, indicating there is no one involved in the UCD environmental activities who understands water quality and is allowed to be an active participant in the University's water quality management activities. Someone who understands water quality data must get involved in revising the presentation of information in the tables in the 4.1 series.
The same kinds of problems occur with Table 4.1-4 presented on page 4.1-13. Whoever developed this table has no understanding of how to present water quality data reliably. It is inappropriate to add additional zeroes to certain analyses as has been done which gives a false indication of the reliability of the analyses. Further, no one knowledgeable on the topic would attempt to develop statistical parameters on the data where only one sample is taken.
From the data presented, hexavalent chromium is being discharged in excessive concentrations to Putah Creek by the Aquatic Center. That discharge should be prohibited since it will almost certainly be toxic to aquatic life in the creek. Further, there are significant problems in the total chromium and hexavalent chromium analyses. Hexavalent chromium cannot be greater than the total chromium as reported since hexavalent chromium is part of the total chromium analysis. The statement on page 4.1-15, first paragraph, that the Putah Creek research facility discharges for total chromium and copper shown in Table 4.1-4 were detected at low levels represents an inappropriate presentation of information. A review of the actual data presented shows that the concentrations of chromium in the data presented for this discharge are almost certainly toxic to some forms of aquatic life.
Page 4.1-15, second paragraph discusses the Aquatic Center's wastewater discharges where it states, "The facility has also maintained a good record of compliance with its NPDES permit limits..." A review of the data shown in Table 4.1-4 for the Aquatic Center shows it has been discharging chemical constituents at toxic levels in violation of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's discharge limits and Basin Plan objectives. The L. Vanderhoef administration and members of his staff routinely claim that UCD's wastewater discharges are in compliance with the NPDES permit when examination of the data by individuals who know the elements of water quality shows that the discharges are frequently out of compliance. The University of California, Davis Office of Planning and Budget which is noted on the cover page as the group responsible for the preparation of this EIR is noted for providing unreliable information to the public and others on UCD's waste management activities. It was this same group that claimed in a newspaper interview in the summer of 1995 that the proposed landfill expansion on the west campus would use a liner that "would not leak." Examination of the actual design shows that this landfill system will pollute groundwaters because the liner system will deteriorate and allow leachate to pass through it on the way to the groundwater system. It is clear that the University of California, Davis Office of Planning and Budget has no one involved in the EIR and propaganda activities who understands water quality and environmental quality issues and who will reliably report on them.
More of the unreliable information developed by the L. Vanderhoef administration occurs on page 4.1-15, paragraph 4, which states that the UCD "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwaters are being treated to remove chloroform, which is the principal pollutant of concern because it has exceeded the maximum contaminant levels for the primary drinking water standards. If the authors of the EIR had been paying attention to what has been happening with the chloroform issue in connection with the "west" landfill situation, they would have known there is no MCL for chloroform. While the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration has attempted to create a false illusion that the MCL for chloroform is the same as the MCL for total trihalomethanes, it has been found that Dames & Moore, the University's consultant on groundwater issues, as well as University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration staff members have repeatedly, deliberately distorted the information on the chloroform hazard to the public. Significant documentation on this distortion is available from the DSCSOC as well as in the University of California, Davis files. Appended to these comments is a discussion of some of this distortion.
A properly prepared EIR would have discussed the fact that discharge limits allowed for the "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwaters by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board have been appealed to the State Water Resources Control Board based on a lack of technical validity. This would alert the readers of the EIR to the fact that there are significant technical questions about the validity of the discharge limits that have been established, and there is substantial probability that the current discharge limits for the leachate-polluted groundwaters to Putah Creek will be significantly decreased, if not by the State Water Resources Control Board, then by the courts.
Page 4.1-16 presents Table 4.1-5 which is purported to be the NPDES permit limits for the Putah Creek Research Facility and the Aquatic Center. No mention is made in this table that there is a discharge limit on the control of toxicity, which evidently is being violated based on the data provided.
Page 4.1-18, Table 4.1-7, presents what are purported to be the NPDES discharge limits for the "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwater clean-up system to Putah Creek. A review of the data for chromium shows the person responsible for developing this data and those who reviewed it do not understand the appropriate unit for chromium. The units are listed as mg/L and it should be ug/L, a factor of 1,000 less than that reported. The poor quality of data collection and presentation associated with this section of the EIR should be grounds for rejection of the whole EIR. The basic issue in connection with the environmental impact evaluation for the proposed treatment plant is based on water quality. It is clear that the University of California, Davis personnel responsible for developing this EIR and those who reviewed and approved it, evidently their consultant Jones & Stokes, do not have sufficient understanding of elementary water quality issues to develop a credible discussion of the potential impact of this proposed treatment plant discharges on water quality in Putah Creek.
Page 4.1-19, first full paragraph, states, "The permit limits the concentrations for BOD and TSS in the effluent, which generally guides the management actions of the WWTP for permit compliance." While that may be the approach used by UCD, the guidance of the permit compliance for this treatment plant should be based on toxicity since it will likely be a more important parameter than either BOD or suspended solids in terms of adversely impacting the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. Basically, UCD and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board are operating with a 1960s mentality of a BOD and suspended solids approach and are allowed to ignore the toxics issues. It is this type of situation which caused the author (Dr. G. Fred Lee) to file a petition with the State Board on the inappropriate approaches being used by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in regulating the University of California, Davis wastewater discharges to Putah Creek.
Page 4.1-19 states in the third paragraph, "The NPDES permit also requires UC Davis to perform chronic effluent toxicity testing using the three-species bioassay to ensure that the WWTP effluent does not cause in-stream toxicity."
Page 4.1-20, Table 4.1-8, is a repeat of what has been presented earlier in Table 3-3 on page 3-13. The comments made on that table apply to this table as well.
Page 4.1-21, third paragraph, states, "The most recent monitoring data from 1995 and 1996 indicate that the WWTP generally complied with receiving water permit conditions downstream of the outfall." This is a significantly different statement than the propaganda put out by UCD L. Vanderhoef administration staff. For example, Julie McNeal, in a letter dated November 14, 1996 to Dr. Karl Longley, Chairman, CVRWQCB attempted to try to support William Crooks from being terminated by the CVRWQCB for failing to enforce the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's requirements for protecting water quality, stated, "over the years, we have received assistance and advice that has allowed us to maintain compliance in a reasonable and cost effective manner." As discussed herein, contrary to the statement made by Ms. McNeal, UCD has not maintained compliance with its wastewater discharge requirements as set forth in its NPDES permit. In fact, as now documented in the draft EIR, there have been frequent violations of this permit in the control of toxic discharges. It is clear from Ms. McNeal's letter that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration wanted to keep the cozy, highly favorable relationship they had with Mr. Crooks and his staff and with the former CVRWQCB Board, where the Board staff and Board would work out arrangements with the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration which were contrary to the public's interests in protecting Putah Creek water quality. Why didn't Mr. Crooks and the Board make the same special arrangements with the impacted public who must bare the brunt of the L. Vanderhoef administration's recalcitrant polluter approach toward UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek? Clearly, Mr. Crooks, members of his staff, and the Board have at least as great, if not greater, obligation to work with the public in protecting Putah Creek water quality in accord with the UCD campus wastewater treatment plant NPDES permit and the Basin Plan objectives as they have to enable the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration to continue to practice cheaper-than-real cost wastewater management.
The wastewater treatment plant and Putah Creek data presented on pages 4.1-21 through 4.1-25 represent a highly inappropriate approach for presenting information of this type in an EIR. A credible EIR provides the reviewers with a tabulation of the data in the appendix which may be summarized by average values in the text discussion. Without the tabulation, the reviewers cannot properly examine the data to determine the characteristics of the receiving waters and wastewater discharges and the reliability of UCD staff who have demonstrated little understanding of basic water quality issues to properly present and interpret the data.
Page 4.1-24, first paragraph, mentions the situation with respect to residual chlorine where the permit allows a residual chlorine of 0.1 mg/L and that there has been exceedance of this value. This is another instance where the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued a permit discharge limit that is not protective of Putah Creek water quality. Those familiar with residual chlorine impacts on aquatic life know the critical concentration for protection of aquatic life is about 11 ug/L, a factor of 10 less than the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's allowed discharge limit. The US EPA "Gold Book" water quality criterion for residual chlorine is 11 ug/L, which should not be exceeded more than once in three years. There could be routine exceedances of the "Gold Book" criterion which would be adverse to Putah Creek aquatic life which would not be prevented by meeting the permit conditions established by the CVRWQCB for the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's campus wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. A review of Table 4.1-10 shows that in 1996 residual chlorine was found in the treatment plant effluent at 1.2 mg/L. There is no doubt that this concentration was highly toxic to aquatic life. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should have been fined for causing this violation. Unfortunately, the data presented does not enable the EIR reviewer to fully analyze the number and frequency of violations of the US EPA water quality criterion for residual chlorine that would be adverse to Putah Creek aquatic life. This is another case where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, by failing to follow the normal practice of putting all of the data presented in a summary table in an appendix, is covering up key information that should have been made available as part of a credible EIR.
On page 4.1-24, the third and fourth paragraphs state,
"Chronic whole effluent toxicity test on the WWTP effluent have generally been conducted on a quarterly basis for three organisms; fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), water flea (Ceriodaphnia dubia), and a green algae (Selenastrum capricornutum). Results of tests conducted on the water flea have routinely exceeded threshold limits of reproduction in the organism.... Of 26 tests for effects of effluent on water flea production from 1990 through the second quarter of 1996, 15 tests have exceeded threshold limits. In the 26 tests for survivability of the water flea, five tests exceeded threshold limits. The water flea is a very sensitive indicator organism and reduced reproduction coupled with generally acceptable results for survival indicate the presence of relatively low-level toxicity in the effluent.... During the same period, threshold criteria for fathead minnow survival and growth were each exceeded two times. Criteria for growth of the green algae were also exceeded twice."
The source of the chronic toxicity threshold exceedances was not identified. However, the effluent used for the tests was also analyzed for conventional parameters, including pH, total alkalinity, hardness, nitrate, ammonia, and DO. For the period of 1991 through the second quarter of 1996, using the water flea, on some test dates the average ammonia concentration in effluent that exceeded threshold toxicity limits was 3.3 mg/L NH3-N. However, on other test dates an average ammonia concentration of 5.2 mg/L NH3-N did not cause threshold toxicity limits to be exceeded. Therefore, no apparent relationship between the test results and ammonia concentrations was evident, indicating that ammonia may not be the cause of the toxicity. There can be considerable variability in chronic toxicity test results, and test results have been shown to be affected by the hardness or mineral content of the source water, particularly when the source water is substantially different from the water used to culture the test organisms. Additionally, there is currently considerable debate regarding the reproducibility and reliable response levels of each chronic toxicity test (Hall pers. comm.).
These results indicate that the UCD campus wastewater treatment plant effluent has been routinely in violation of the chronic toxicity discharge limits. This is predictable based on the way in which the University of California, Davis has been regulating its discharges. While the authors of this section attempts to minimize the frequent toxicity that is found in the effluent, the fact is that the University of California, Davis wastewater treatment plant has been in violation of its discharge permit for years and continues to be in violation of this permit with respect to toxicity. The statement made, "The water flea is a very sensitive indicator organism and reduced reproduction coupled with generally acceptable results for survival indicate the presence of relatively low-level toxicity in the effluent...." What the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration characterizes as a low level of toxicity is, in fact, a violation of its NPDES permit requirements and is certainly detrimental to aquatic life in Putah Creek.
Page 4.1-24, fourth paragraph, states, "Additionally, there is currently considerable debate regarding the reproducibility and reliable response levels of each chronic toxicity test (Hall pers. comm.)." Evidently, the University of California, Davis personnel, the reviewers of this EIR and Hall do not understand what is happening in the field with respect to the use of these tests. These are standardized tests that have been found to be highly reliable in predicting adverse impacts on receiving water quality. The reliability of these tests has been reported by de Vlaming (1995)of the State Water Resources Control Board, where he concludes,
"Available literature yields a compelling weight of evidence, demonstration that the WET, and other indicator species, toxicity test results are accurate qualitative predictors of in-stream biological community responses."
Denton (1995) of the US EPA Region 9 has reported that the effluent toxicity testing of the type UCD is conducting on its wastewater treatment plant discharge provides a high degree of reliability in predicting adverse impacts on aquatic life in receiving waters for the discharge.
Because of the controversy raised primarily by public and private wastewater treatment plant dischargers in an attempt to discredit whole effluent toxicity (WET) testing, which shows some wastewater effluents are in violation of the requirements for control of toxicity, the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry organized a whole effluent toxicity workshop that was held in 1995. About 50 experts in the field of aquatic toxicity met for one week to discuss various issues associated with the use of whole effluent toxicity tests in regulating toxic discharges to the nation's surface waters. The proceedings of this workshop (Grothe et al., 1996) have recently been published by the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The overall conclusion from the workshop was that whole effluent toxicity is a reliable tool that can be used to predict potential in-stream effects due to the discharge of toxic chemicals on receiving water aquatic life. The ability to predict, from effluent toxicity tests to receiving water impacts, is especially good for situations such as those associated with UCD's campus wastewater treatment plant discharges to Putah Creek. There can be no doubt that the frequent, significant toxicity found in the UCD wastewater discharges to Putah Creek, as reported in the draft EIR, have been in violation of the UCD NPDES wastewater discharge permit requirement of not discharging toxicity to Putah Creek which is adverse to Putah Creek aquatic life.
Again the data presentation on this topic is highly inappropriate. Actually, there is no data presentation other than just the narrative discussion on toxicity issues. Evidently, the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration is trying to cover up the fact that it has significant toxicity in its wastewater effluent discharged to Putah Creek. It is also covering up the fact that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has not been enforcing its regulations governing controlling toxicity in the effluent based on the fact that the toxicity problems have been occurring since 1991. The 1992 NPDES permit requires (see page 5),
"The Discharger shall implement an effluent toxicity monitoring program in accordance with procedures outlined in EPA 600/4-89/001 (Short-term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluent and Receiving Water to Freshwater Organisms) and EPA 400/4-85-032 (Technical Support Document for Water Quality Based on Toxic Control) to ensure that their discharge does not produce in-stream toxicity.
The Discharger shall submit the results of the biotoxicity monitoring program to the Board in accordance with the program schedule.
If the discharge produces in-stream toxicity, the Discharger shall conduct an investigation and develop a corrective action plan."
It is clear the CVRWQCB has been highly lax in enforcing the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's NPDES permit covering the discharge of toxic constituents to Putah Creek. To allow this situation to go on since 1991 without requiring that UCD install additional treatment works to control this toxicity is highly inappropriate and further points to the inadequate regulation of the University of California, Davis wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The author is familiar with situations with other regional boards where an industrial discharger that had less toxicity in its effluent than UCD is reporting was fined over several hundred thousand dollars for failing to control the toxicity. Further, ultimately the company shut down its operations since it could not afford to control the toxicity to the required discharged limits.
The fact that UCD has not been able to associate the toxicity with a specific chemical is not surprising. There are thousands of unregulated chemicals used at a university which could cause aquatic life toxicity. In the case of the University of California, Davis wastewater discharges to Putah Creek, there are well-established procedures involving toxicity reduction evaluation (TRE's) that should have been implemented years ago which would have by now lead to the installation of treatment works to eliminate the toxicity in UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. It appears that the University of California, Davis and the Central Valley Regional Quality Control Board's staff have been ineffectively working behind the scenes to address this problem through trying to control specific chemical inputs to the UCD sewerage system as a means of complying with the control of the toxicity. Those with an elementary knowledge of this topic know, however, that such approaches are not necessarily reliable, especially under conditions where there are a large number of potential dischargers of toxic substances to this sewer system, i.e. each of the University's major research laboratory facilities. Further, and most importantly, those familiar with this topic know there are large numbers of toxic chemicals used in university laboratories which are unregulated, i.e. do not have water quality criterion/standards. Under these conditions, the regulated chemical by chemical approach being used by UCD to try to control toxicity in its effluent is obviously flawed and will not be protective of Putah Creek water quality.
If the CVRWQCB had been "working with the public" on protecting Putah Creek water quality, they would have likely found that the public, at least over the past several years, would have pointed out that the proposed approach for control of effluent toxicity, which evidently has been in affect since the early 1990's, would likely fail. UCD should be immediately required to conduct a reliable TRE and install treatment works that will eliminate the discharge of toxicity to Putah Creek. If toxicity control is not achieved within two years, i.e. by December 31, 1998, then UCD should lose the privilege of discharging its toxic wastewaters to Putah Creek. If the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration persists with trying to manage its toxic wastewaters in a highly ineffective manner as has apparently occurred over the past five years, then the University should be fined for each and every toxic discharge, and, if necessary, the administration should be incarcerated for repeated recalcitrant water pollution violations.
This course of action would be taken against other dischargers, and it should be taken against the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration as well. Possibly, if L. Vanderhoef and members of his administration who are formulating current UCD waste management policy spent a few nights in jail as a result of the current UCD inappropriate waste management policies which result in repeated violations of existing permits, they would begin to rethink the cheaper-than-real cost management approaches that are being used and immediately start to work effectively with the City of Davis in establishing a sewerage system that would allow UCD's wastewaters to be discharged to the City of Davis sewerage system. While the data are not available on which the author can make a judgement on whether discharge to the City sewerage system would eliminate the toxicity problem associated with UCD's wastewater problems, it is likely, because of the significant dilution and the more reliable treatment that would be practiced, that the toxicity problem would no longer be present. If it is, then through a local limits on toxicity and proper monitoring within the UCD sewerage system, it would be possible to control this problem sufficiently so the dilution available in combination with the City of Davis' wastewaters would eliminate the problem.
Page 4.1-31 discusses the LEHR site. The first paragraph attempts to give the impression that the LEHR site pollution is historical in nature. What should have been said is that these historical practices of inappropriate waste management continued up through the time when DOE shut down UCD's operations at the LEHR site in 1989. It was known in the 1950s that waste management of the type UCD has been practicing at the LEHR site would lead to groundwater pollution. This situation was ignored by the University administration and those responsible for managing campus wastes and LEHR wastes in the LEHR area. Enclosed is a summary of a presentation made by the author at the DSCSOC Town Meeting held in October 1996, which summarizes some of the inappropriate approaches that have been used by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in addressing waste management issues at the LEHR site.
Page 4.1-31, third paragraph, mentions that UCD campus landfills No. 1 and No. 2 are located at the LEHR site. There is also campus landfill No. 3 located at this site, which is also under investigation as part of the UCD/DOE LEHR national superfund site. This Landfill received, in addition to campus hazardous and other wastes, radioactive and hazardous wastes from the LEHR site. This is the same landfill that a past UCD administration cut a drainage channel through in order to enable stormwater from other parts of the campus to reach Putah Creek. While this problem and the potential hazards associated with it have been known for over ten years, today stormwater runoff from the UCD campus passes through exposed wastes in the channel cut through this landfill. Thus far, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has failed to develop a credible monitoring program for the stormwater passing through this channel and the exposed wastes in route to Putah Creek.
Page 4.1-32 mentions, in the third paragraph, the most recent data collected in "1995." This draft EIR was released in October 1996. There has been at least one additional data set released from the winter 1996 sampling that has been available for at least several months that could have been incorporated into this report.
Page 4.1-33 under "Groundwater Quality," attempts to provide a distinction between deep aquifers and shallow aquifers. The so-called shallow aquifer or local aquifer discussed at the bottom of the page is the same so-called deep aquifer discussed above that. The same waterbody, HSU-2, is the first aquifer under the campus. Further, it is well-known that the pollution of HSU-2 will lead to the pollution of HSU-4, another major aquifer underlying the campus. The two aquifers are interconnected through the transport through HSU-3, a clay layer, as well as wells that penetrate both aquifers and are interconnected through their well casing and gravel pack. This issue has been discussed in detail as part of the LEHR site investigations. Those who prepared this draft EIR have conducted a highly superficial review of LEHR site documents with the result that the information provided in the draft EIR is, in some cases, unreliable.
Page 4.1-37 states under "Regulatory Setting," first paragraph,
"Water Quality objectives and numerical water quality criteria are established in the CVRWQCB water quality control plan (Basin Plan) to protect the established beneficial uses of surface water and groundwater (California Regional Water Quality Control Board 1995d)."
The Basin Plan objectives also require no toxicity exist in waters designated for aquatic life use.
In the next paragraph, it states, "Narrative water quality objectives applicable to Putah Creek include criteria for toxicity, biostimulatory substances (i.e., nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus), taste, and odor." These so-called narrative water quality objectives discussed herein for toxicity of no toxicity in the discharge of the wastewater treatment plant are as enforceable and have the same requirements for compliance as the specific chemical numeric standards. It is clear that those responsible for developing the EIR and the L. Vanderhoef administration do not understand that toxicity is a parameter of water quality that has the same requirements as the chemical-specific requirement and cannot be violated without violating the permit.
The statement is made on the bottom of page 4.1-38 under "Water Quality Criteria and Standards for Toxic Pollutants," "In the future, the CVRWQCB will be required to incorporate additional limits for toxic pollutants in the NPDES permit for discharge of WWTP effluent to the South Fork of Putah Creek." The fact that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board imposes specific numeric discharge limits for potentially toxic chemicals in the revised NPDES permit for UCD's wastewater discharges will not in any way change UCD's requirements for compliance with the effluent toxicity limit set forth in its current permit. At this time, the University of California, Davis is required to have a non-toxic effluent to Ceriodaphnia, fathead minnow larvae and the algal Selenastrum. This is delineated in the existing permit. While the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, either through ignorance or through a deliberate distortion of the facts, has attempted to ignore the over-riding conditions set forth in the permit of no toxicity as measured through the specified tests, the facts are that UCD has been in violation of its permit with respect to discharge of toxicity.
Page 4.1-42, second paragraph, mentions that UCD was discharging highly toxic constituents from its cooling tower discharges directly to the Arboretum Waterway up to April 1996. As discussed above, it has been known for 30 years that cooling tower blowdown is significantly adverse to the beneficial uses of surface waters because of the toxic and other constituents in it. The fact that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration did not control this problem until 1996 reflects on the recalcitrant polluter approach used by the University toward detecting and managing its waste discharges.
Page 4.1-43, under "Title 22 Water Reclamation Criteria," indicates that a daily maximum of 23 MPN total coliforms per 100 ml is allowed in the discharge of the wastewater treatment plant to Putah Creek. It is recognized that the California Department of Health Services' water reclamation criteria are not adequate to protect public health from enteroviruses and cyst-forming protozoan which are present in domestic wastewaters. The author has published several papers on this topic, including Lee and Jones-Lee 1995a,b and 1996. The inadequate treatment of UCD's wastewaters with respect to protection of public health of those contact recreating in Putah Creek immediately downstream of the campus wastewater treatment plant discharge is especially important in regard to children and young adults who swim in Putah Creek in what can be essentially 100% sewage effluent. Under these conditions, as discussed by Lee and Jones-Lee (1995c, 1996), much stricter criteria and monitoring is needed than that required under Title 22 if those who recreate in University of California, Davis wastewaters are to avoid enteric and other diseases. This requirement is in accord with the Basin Plan objectives of protecting people from disease.
Page 4.1-54, second paragraph, states,
"The proposed WWTP would be designed to produce an effluent with equal to or less than 1 mg/L of ammonia nitrogen, which is the anticipated effluent quality requirement (Table 4.1-14). Un-ionized ammonia is a component of ammonia nitrogen that is known to be potentially toxic to fish at certain pH levels and temperatures. At the anticipated limit, the concentration of un-ionized ammonia, the chemical component of concern in ammonia nitrogen, would be well below reported levels (0.2-0.6 mg/L) that would be potentially toxic to fish (Mingee pers. comm.)."
Mr. Mingee is an associate of Nolte & Associates, a consulting firm that worked with UCD in developing its wastewater treatment plant proposed approach for treatment. It appears that Mr. Mingee, the authors and reviewers of the draft EIR and other members of the L. Vanderhoef administration do not have sufficient understanding of ammonia toxicity issues to reliably report on or examine information on the toxicity of un-ionized ammonia. Un-ionized ammonia is toxic at approximately 0.02 mg/L NH3. At the temperatures and pH of Putah Creek waters in the vicinity of the wastewater discharge, under conditions where there is limited dilution, the total ammonia can be no more than about 0.1 mg/L in order to protect aquatic life from toxicity. This is well below the numbers cited in the above quoted paragraph in the draft EIR for the toxicity of un-ionized ammonia of 0.2 to 0.6 mg/L. This is yet another example of inappropriate review of ammonia data by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and their consultants.
It appears from the ammonia discussion that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and their consultants are trying to mislead others into believing that only acute toxicity of ammonia has to be considered. In the situation that exists associated with UCD's wastewater discharges under low-flow conditions, chronic toxicity of ammonia must be examined since this will be the key issue with respect to causing adverse conditions to fish. Further, if those responsible for developing and reviewing this section had reliably reported on the information available on ammonia toxicity, they would have indicated that at the concentrations of 0.2 to 0.6 mg/L of ammonia nitrogen, half of the fish would be killed. This is the approximate 96 hr LC50 for un-ionized ammonia. This would be in violation of the Basin Plan objective which requires that aquatic life be protected from toxicity.
It is important to note, as was documented in my correspondence of August 1996 with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Regional Board's assistant executive officer and possibly the former executive officer and members of the Regional Board staff responsible for UCD activities do not understand ammonia toxicity situations well enough to detect toxic conditions in UCD's wastewater discharge when they incorporated the data into a letter sent to me when it was claimed UCD's wastewater discharges do not contain excessive ammonia. Examination of the data incorporated as an appendix to the assistant executive officer's letter to me showed that UCD has been discharging excessive ammonia to Putah Creek in violation of the Basin Plan objectives and of its NPDES permit. The public has justified little confidence that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and the CVRWQCB will, in fact, protect Putah Creek aquatic life from ammonia toxicity. It is important that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the University of California, Davis obtain competent technical assistance so they can reliably evaluate ammonia toxicity in the UCD wastewater discharges to Putah Creek.
The statement is made on page 4.1-54, end of the second paragraph, "Therefore, potential water quality impacts associated with discharge of BOD, TSS, and ammonia to the South Fork of Putah Creek are considered less than significant." This statement is unreliable. In predicted concentrations of 0.2 to 0.6 mg/L, the concentrations of ammonia in this discharge could be in violation of the chronic toxicity discharge limitations and, therefore, would violate the permit conditions.
Page 4.1-54, last paragraph, states,
"Water quality degradation could occur as a result of the potential exceedance of one or more criteria and standards that would likely be included as future NPDES permit limits for the proposed WWTP."
Once again this is more of the distorted information that prevails through this EIR in which the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration is ignoring the fact that it has a toxic requirement in its current permit that prohibits toxic discharges. This statement is also incorrect when its states, "Water quality degradation could occur as the result of potential exceedance..." Water quality degradation occurs not because of potential exceedance but because of toxicity. Whether the criterion is exceeded or not is not a measure of toxicity. Site-specific toxicity measurements have to be made to determine whether a particular exceedance for regulated chemicals as well as the presence of unregulated chemicals in toxic amounts is occurring.
Page 4.1-55 states that Mr. McHenry of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board advised UCD on the selection of the criteria to be used. Mr. McHenry's testimony before the Board on UCD waste discharge matters in June 1995 demonstrated he does not understand the topic of water quality criteria sufficiently well to be advising anyone on this topic. This is exemplified by the fact that he testified before the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in June 1995 that acute toxicity limits for chromium VI would be protective, so there is no need for a chronic toxicity limit. It is important to point out that the author pointed out at the time that Mr. McHenry simply did not understand the topic of his testimony. Subsequently, in the revisions of the permit for UCD, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board imposed chronic toxicity limits as well as acute toxicity limits in accord with the author's recommendation. This action corrected Mr. McHenry's June 1995 error.
Page 4.1-55 in the first paragraph makes reference to Table 4.1-15 as criteria that could be imposed on the University of California, Davis' wastewater discharges. A review of Table 4.1-15 as well as a similar table in the appendix shows there is inadequate information presented to judge whether the table has been properly developed for certain of the metals. Many of the metals have water quality criteria based on hardness. The table indicates that a hardness of 110 mg/L of some unknown units (presumably as calcium carbonate, but unspecified in the table) was used. How the ambient waters compared to this hardness should be specified.
The arsenic criterion listed in this table is in the process of being revised by the US EPA. The draft EIR should have indicated it is likely that the new criterion could be 20, 2, or 0.2 mg/L in accord with the US EPA's announced proposed limits. Under the lower possible proposed limits, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration may have to treat the campus wastewaters to remove arsenic in order to comply with Basin Plan objectives of protecting the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek. This is another of the potentially significant factors that should have been included in this draft EIR as part of providing full disclosure of potential impacts and their associated costs when evaluating alternative approaches for managing UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek.
The chromium hexavalent values presented in this table as non-detect reflect the fact that inadequate analytical procedures were used in which the detection limits were the same as the US EPA criterion value of 10 ug/L. Further, while the criterion is listed as 10 ug/L, it is well-known that chromium VI can be toxic to zooplankton at less than 1 ug/L. The chromium situation in the wastewater discharge is another of the issues that should have been more adequately and reliably discussed in the draft EIR.
It has been known (see attached petition to the State Water Resources Control Board) since the mid-1980's that chromium VI is toxic to some forms of aquatic life at less than 2 ug/L. Recently, as discussed in the attached petition, Environment Canada has reported that chromium VI is toxic to some forms of aquatic life at less than 1 ug/L. Since the CVRWQCB Basin Plan objective and the UCD L. Vanderhoef NPDES permit governing campus wastewater discharges to Putah Creek require that the effluent be non-toxic at the point it enters the Creek, simply meeting the current US EPA water quality criterion for chromium VI of 10 ug/L will not comply with permit conditions and Basin Plan objectives. The concentrations of chromium VI in UCD's wastewater effluent appear frequently to be in the order of 5 to 10 ug/L. If chromium VI is toxic to aquatic life at less than 1 ug/L in Putah Creek waters, then the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration will have to provide highly expensive treatment works well beyond those currently contemplated in order to protect Putah Creek aquatic life from chromium VI toxicity.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has not provided an adequate database on Putah Creek background water quality to enable a proper assessment of the degree of treatment needed for UCD's various wastewater treatment plant discharges in order to have the effluent not cause violations of the discharge permit and Basin Plan objectives. A properly developed database would have included several years of comprehensive upstream monitoring of Putah Creek water characteristics rather than the couple months that was used by the UCD administration. The highly limited Putah Creek upstream monitoring data available should stop further work in planning wastewater discharges to Putah Creek since, without adequate upstream monitoring data, it is not possible to reliably assess the degree of treatment that will be needed to achieve Basin Plan objectives and NPDES permit limits for the control of toxicity.
Another factor the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has failed to adequately and reliably present and discuss is the fact that from the limited data available, Putah Creek upstream of the campus contains excessive concentrations of a variety of constituents, such as chromium VI, compared to those that could be toxic to aquatic life. This means that since excessive concentrations already exist, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration may be required to treat the wastewaters discharged to Putah Creek so no additional chromium is discharged because of the high background levels already present in the Creek. Such treatment can quickly become prohibitively expensive and make the alternative methods of wastewater management much more cost effective than currently portrayed in the draft EIR.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has conducted and presented a highly superficial review of the potential treatment requirements that will have to be achieved if the campus wastewaters discharged to Putah Creek are to comply with Basin Plan objectives and NPDES permit requirements of controlling aquatic life toxicity at the point of discharge. A proper review of this topic will show that far more expensive treatment works will be needed than those contemplated by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration as presented in the draft EIR. The construction operation of these treatment works will greatly increase the cost of discharge of campus wastewaters to Putah Creek.
Table 4.1-15 contains a significant error for the trihalomethane components listed there such as bromodichloromethane and dibromochloromethane in which 100 ug/L is listed as the criterion value for these chemicals. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and their consultants have for years been perpetuating the myth that these chemicals as wastes should be regulated as though they were in drinking water where they are formed from a disinfection process. Those who have an elementary understanding of drinking water standards know that the total trihalomethane standard MCL of 100 ug/L represents a high cancer risk compared to that normally allowed in drinking waters. This was justified in the early 1980s based on the fact that it was thought then that imposing a more appropriate cancer risk for trihalomethanes would reduce the efficacy of disinfection. It is now realized that this was a significant error that needs to be corrected. It will be at least partially corrected in connection with the new drinking water MCLs for trihalomethanes the US EPA is promulgating at this time.
The proper values listed in Table 4.1-15 for the so-called criteria (MCLs) for these chemicals should be the detection limit which has been 0.5 ug/L for chloroform. The fact that the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration in an October 1996 document included this information shows this administration is fundamentally corrupt with respect to providing reliable information on the hazards of trihalomethane components. Ample documentation has been provided by DSCSOC, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Department of Toxic Substances and others on this issue so this deliberate distortion of information that is occurring in the October 1996 draft EIR should not have occurred. A responsible administration and EIR developers would not have allowed this kind of deliberate distortion of information to occur in this document. This again reflects the recalcitrant polluter approach that is used by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in addressing issues of concern to the public.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in the draft EIR admits there is a potential problem due to toxics in the wastewater discharge. Their proposed mitigation approaches, however, of strictly implementing the pretreatment program will not necessarily be adequate to prevent toxicity in the effluent. Earlier in this draft EIR, mention is made that the cause of the aquatic life toxicity in the current wastewater treatment plant discharges are unidentified. In accord with regulatory requirements, when toxicity was first found, the University of California, Davis was required, based on the permit, to conduct studies to identify the toxicity and to initiate toxicity reduction evaluations-TREs to control the toxicity. The fact that toxicity has been allowed to continue since 1991 without control clearly reflects that the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration is not implementing the requirements of its discharge permit for toxicity control.
The statement is made on page 4.1-57, second paragraph, "Because of the relationship between local limits and the potential future permit limits, the local limits for the pollutants of concern in this analysis would be considered protective of water quality in the South Fork of Putah Creek." That statement has no technical validity. If UCD cannot determine what the cause of the toxicity is, then how can they possibly, through a program designed to address specific constituents and not toxicity, such as the local limit, address the key issue, namely, controlling toxicity in the effluent? The approach advocated of relying on local limits proposed is not technically valid and will not work to protect Putah Creek. The local limit approach considers only a small number of the potentially toxic constituents in UCD's discharges to its sanitary sewer system.
Page 4.1-57 under Section 4.1-7 claims that the un-ionized ammonia levels in the effluent did not match with toxicity found. This is to be expected since Ceriodaphnia is not particularly sensitive to un-ionized ammonia.
The end of the paragraph mentions, "The additive effect of the presence of different pollutants is also known to be a factor in causing chronic toxicity in test organisms." The implication is that this does not occur in real world situations. No one should interpret it that way, since, in fact, chronic toxicity due to additive effects is a common occurrence that has to be considered. Therefore, even though all constituents in the wastewater discharge meet the water quality criteria and the criteria are appropriate to protect against toxicity, additive effects could cause toxicity. This can only be detected by toxicity measurements in the effluent and in the receiving waters.
On page 4.1-58, it is mentioned that the pretreatment program would address the control of toxicity. That statement is obviously not reliable based on the experience encountered. The statement is made on page 4.1-58, the middle paragraph, "Although not required by the current NPDES permit, additional testing could also be required by the CVRWQCB to further assess the potential for toxicity in areas not directly related to the scope of the TRE." That statement that this is not required by the current permit is inaccurate and represents an inappropriate interpretation of the current permit requirements.
Item 11 on page C-8 of the draft EIR which is part of the current NPDES permit covering UCD's campus wastewater discharges to Putah Creek states under "Receiving Water Limitations,"
"The Discharger shall implement an effluent toxicity monitoring program in accordance with procedures outlined in EPA 600/4-89/001 (Short-term Methods for Estimating the Chronic Toxicity of Effluent and Receiving Water to Freshwater Organisms) and EPA 440/4-85-032 (Technical Support Document for Water Quality Based Toxic Control) to ensure that their discharge does not produce in-stream toxicity.
"The Discharger shall submit the results of the biotoxicity monitoring program to the Board in accordance with the program schedule.
"If the discharge produces in-stream toxicity, the Discharger shall conduct an investigation and develop a corrective action plan."
This is a requirement now of the permit as set forth in the "Receiving Water Limitations." The statement that it is not required is false; it is required but is simply not implemented. This is another of the failures of the UCD administration and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to implement the requirements of the existing NPDES permit to protect Putah Creek. It is situations such as this that have caused the public concerned about Putah Creek water quality to file complaints, first with the Regional Board and then when the Regional Board did not act appropriately, with Governor Wilson, which ultimately resulted in the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer, William Crooks, to be terminated from his position.
The statement is made in the third paragraph on page 4.1-58, "Additional testing could include sediment toxicity and bioaccumulation monitoring to determine if pollutants have accumulated in sediment and fish tissues and could also be contributing to toxicity." This statement reflects a lack of understanding of basic water quality issues. Bioaccumulation information will say nothing reliable about aquatic life toxicity. Bioaccumulation is of concern because of its toxicity to higher trophic level organisms, including man, who use the fish as food.
It is stated in this same paragraph, "The tests would only be required if the pollutant identified by the TRE had the potential to persist in the environment at toxic levels. If the results indicated that the pollutant identified by the TRE was either ammonia or a volatile organic compound with little or no potential to cause toxicity or persist in the aquatic environment, these tests would not be required (McHenry pers. comm.)." Once again, Mr. McHenry has demonstrated his lack of understanding of water quality issues with respect to toxic chemicals. First, TRE's are not used to identify toxic components. Those knowledgeable in the elements of the topic area know that a TIE is used to identify toxic components of a toxic water. The TRE is used to find an approach to control the toxicity. It is possible to control toxicity through treatment without identifying the specific constituents responsible for the toxicity.
The issue of toxicity persistence is not one for the chemicals mentioned, either VOCs or ammonia, where a discharge of toxic amounts of these constituents in an effluent would not result in toxicity in Putah Creek because of the loss of the chemical. Based on past observations, some of those who fish in Putah Creek believe at least some fish like to concentrate in Putah Creek waters near the campus wastewater treatment plant discharge, possibly due to temperature differences, etc. Under these conditions, a chemical that is even rapidly lost due to volatilization that is discharged continuously at toxic levels for a period of hours to a few days could be toxic to fish since the fish are able to maintain their position near the point of discharge and, thereby, experience a toxic exposure situation. Further, it should have been obvious to anyone who had reviewed the data on Putah Creek generated at the LEHR site that the VOCs are persisting sufficiently in Putah Creek to lead to groundwater pollution downstream of the discharge from the UCD wastewater treatment plant. Based on this statement, Mr. McHenry and those who developed this draft EIR section evidently do not understand how toxicity limits are developed and the regulatory issues associated with toxicity evaluation and management.
The statement is also made in this paragraph on page 4.1-58,
"The limitations of these additional tests are that the results would reflect potential effects from historic discharges in the entire watershed rather than just proposed WWTP discharge, and that there are currently no regulatory standards with which to compare the results."
That is gobbledygook which reflects the highly distorted information the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration is propagating on the public and regulatory agencies. Anyone knowledgeable in this topic area knows there are standards for aquatic life toxicity tests toxicity limits. These are set forth in the Basin Plan as no toxicity. Any toxicity measured would be adverse to a form of aquatic life. Those knowledgeable in the toxic topic area know it is relatively straightforward to determine whether excessive ambient water toxicity exists and, in most cases, determine its cause and trace back its origin. It is also possible, even if it is not possible to determine its cause, to control toxicity through various treatment works based on toxicity measurements. These are well-known principles of water quality evaluation and management that have been in existence for over 20 years.
On page 4.1-60 under "Groundwater Quality," the second paragraph states that the recharge of groundwaters from Putah Creek occurs during the winter. It also occurs during the summer. The statement,
"During this period, nitrates in WWTP effluent would be highly diluted in the South Fork of Putah Creek and would further decrease as a result of mixing with ambient groundwater after reaching the water table and adsorption to clay and organic matter above and below the water table."
Whoever wrote this section does not understand even the most elementary aspects of aquatic chemistry. Those with an elementary knowledge of water chemistry and water quality know that nitrate does not adsorb to clays and organics. This is the reason that it is highly mobile in groundwater systems. This is a fundamental error that clearly indicates those responsible for developing this section and all those who have reviewed it do not understand what they are doing and should not be developing EIRs on this type of an issue.
This lack of understanding is further exemplified by the last paragraph on page 4.1-60 where it is stated,
"For similar reasons, there would be no substantial change in potential groundwater contamination from trace metals or organic compounds."
It is stated further on in the same paragraph,
"Additionally, the WWTP discharge would have to meet the criteria presented in Table 4.1-15, which would be considered to be protective of aquatic resources, such as groundwater quality. The WWTP effluent is not like a landfill or dump site, which have concentrated sources of some pollutants that can result in excess concentrations in groundwater even after decreases from dilution, adsorption, and dispersion. Therefore, the impact of the proposed project on groundwater quality is considered less than significant."
The fundamental reasoning presented in the two above quotes is flawed. First, for the VOCs which are the principal constituents of concern, Table 4.1-15 lists the TTHM VOC standards as 100 ug/L. As discussed elsewhere, that is not the standard for these chemicals. The standard for these chemicals with respect to groundwater recharge is non-detect, which for chloroform is 0.5 ug/L, not 100 ug/L. Second, without site-specific studies, it is not possible to rule out that someone's well located near Putah Creek could be contaminated with VOCs due to Putah Creek recharge of domestic wastewater treatment plant discharged VOCs and, thereby, increase the potential to acquire cancer through the consumption of this water. The information developed in the LEHR site studies on groundwater pollution by recharge of VOCs discharged to Putah Creek by the UCD wastewater treatment plant should have been included in the draft EIR since this information is readily available to University administration.
Further, UCD environmental staff know the Pacific Northwest Laboratories found UCD's pollution of groundwaters by VOCs from its wastewater treatment plant through measuring concentrations of VOCs in the groundwaters near Putah Creek that are well above the non-detect level, i.e. the standard for these waters. It is obvious that this so-called dilution-dispersion-adsorption, etc. mechanism evoked by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration as a basis for the discharge of organics/VOCs to Putah Creek and the subsequent recharge of the Creek waters to the groundwaters of the area not causing groundwater pollution is not adequate to prevent groundwater in the vicinity of the Creek from accumulating excessive VOCs. This is exactly what has happened and could readily continue as long as UCD fails to properly remove VOCs to non-detect levels in its wastewater discharges. Contrary to the statement made, mitigation in the form of advanced treatment processes will be needed to prevent further groundwater pollution by VOC present in UCD's wastewater discharges.
This is another of the areas that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should have more adequately and reliably reported on in this draft EIR. A technically competent draft EIR would have included the presentation of public information that is in the UCD files, the UCD Shields Library, and the Yolo County Davis Branch Library pertinent to groundwater pollution by UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. This is also another issue that will readily increase the cost of the proposed future UCD campus wastewater management approach as set forth in the draft EIR if this treatment plant effluent is to achieve regulatory requirements. There will be a significant increase in cost in providing adequate wastewater treatment before discharged to Putah Creek.
It is important to note that the water quality issues such as excessive concentrations of arsenic, chromium and VOCs as well as the unidentified cause of toxicity in the UCD campus wastewater discharge will all likely have to be controlled by different treatment processes. There will be no simple quick fix where an inexpensive process could be added to the new treatment works which would solve the problems caused by excessive concentrations of these chemicals and toxicity in the effluent that cause violations of the Basin Plan objectives and NPDES permit.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should understand that the business as usual approach of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and staff failing to properly enforce the Board's regulations with respect to providing adequate treatment for UCD's wastewater discharge to Putah Creek will no longer be allowed. The public has become sufficiently concerned about Putah Creek water quality so they will take the necessary action to require full compliance with the required NPDES permit and Basin Plan objectives at the point of discharge and downstream. The CVRWQCB and staff will no longer be able to look the other way with respect to achieving full compliance with Basin Plan objectives and NPDES permit requirements. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration will soon understand that its ill conceived proposed plan for continued discharge of minimally treated campus wastewaters discharged to Putah Creek will require far more expensive treatment works to be constructed and will have far more expensive operating costs than those projected for the proposed treatment works set forth in the draft EIR. The proposed treatment works as set forth in the draft EIR will not protect Putah Creek water quality. The impacted public is entitled to and will work for achieving full protection of Putah Creek water quality from UCD's waste management activities.
Page 4.1-161, second paragraph, is the same paragraph contained in the Executive Summary that has been commented on previously. The Hypalon liner will not prevent groundwater pollution. It is likely it will, if properly constructed, delay pollution for a few years. However, it is unlikely it will delay pollution for its 20 year design life.
The author, Dr. G. Fred Lee, has considerable familiarity with biosolids issues and the potential for groundwater pollution. Recently, he was asked by the Water Environment Federation Research Foundation to serve as a member of an expert panel advising the Foundation on the development of research devoted to evaluating the potential for biosolids to pollute groundwaters with nitrogen compounds. This is one of the principal areas of concern in managing biosolids. This advisory panel will also assist the Foundation in evaluating the adequacy of the research and its reporting to the profession.
Contrary to the statement made in the draft EIR, the distance between the bottom of the sludge pits and the surface of the groundwater is not a significant barrier to groundwater pollution. All one needs to do to examine the credibility of this issue is to examine the fact that UCD has at least half a dozen sites on campus where that same distance has existed and groundwater pollution has occurred by surface and near-surface applied materials. Basically, the approach that should be followed is to require that sledge drying beds and holding beds be lined with a double composite liner, similar to those used at hazardous waste landfills where the lower composite liner is part of a pan lysimeter that is used for leak detection for the upper liner. If sludge-derived constituents are found in the leak detection system between the two liners, then the use of the sewage sludge storage basins would have to be terminated and the liners replaced.
The drying beds described in the third paragraph on page 4.1-61 as being composed of asphalt will also be a source of groundwater pollution. These beds should be underlain by a double composite liner system to prevent groundwater pollution by nitrogen compounds and other constituents in sludge.
The mitigation measures, at the bottom of page 4.1-61 involving groundwater monitoring are not reliable. The leaks through cracks in the asphalt or holes in the liners will produce finger-like plumes that will have limited lateral spread by the time they reach monitoring wells that are conventionally used for such monitoring. While no information is provided, typically monitoring wells are spaced hundreds of feet apart. Each monitoring well has a zone of capture of about one foot. Therefore, there is ample opportunity for sludge-derived constituents to pollute groundwaters and not be detected by the monitoring well system. The mitigation proposed is fundamentally flawed and will not provide reliable protection of groundwater resources from sludge-derived constituents. As discussed earlier, the issues on adequacy of groundwater monitoring near lined landfills are described by Cherry (1990). They have also been described by the author (Lee and Jones-Lee, 1994a). The same issues apply to Hypalon lined and asphalt lined sledge drying beds and holding areas.
Page 4.1-63, item 4.1-12, indicates there is significant potential for cumulative impacts of wastewater discharges in stormwater runoff from the campus to Putah Creek on Putah Creek water quality. Reference is made in the first paragraph under this item to Appendix D. A detailed set of comments on the flawed technological approach used in Appendix D is provided. Basically, Appendix D is not a credible discussion of accumulated impacts since the authors of this report as well as the reviewers do not understand how to assess potential cumulative impacts of multiple discharges of complex mixtures of potentially toxic chemicals. A mass balance model of the type used dealing only with a few regulated chemicals is an unreliable approach.
The statement at the bottom of the second paragraph, "There are no other known significant sources of conventional pollutants such as BOD, TSS, or ammonia in permitted or storm water discharges to the South Fork of Putah Creek, so there would be no cumulative impacts associated with these pollutants." reflects a lack of understanding of basic processes that are occurring in the aquatic systems of concern. BOD and other oxygen demanding materials, suspended solids, and ammonia are accumulated within aquatic sediments, which under a rising hydrograph can be scoured and lead to significant dissolved oxygen depletions, increased turbidity and ammonia toxicity. These are all well-known situations that occur in shallow streams such as Putah Creek. The author of the section does not understand elementary water quality issues associated with shallow creek hydrodynamics, aquatic chemistry and toxicology and, as a result, has unreliably reported on the issues of concern.
All of the discussion on page 4.1-64, 4.1-65, etc. on the cumulative impact analysis done by Jones & Stokes Associates, Inc. does not address the issues that should have been addressed in accord with requests made for a Blue Ribbon Panel review submitted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in July 1995. This issue is discussed further elsewhere in these comments.
Page 4.1-66 under section 4.1-13 discusses the cumulative impacts of agricultural and urban drainage in the region in conjunction with the proposed wastewater treatment plant and the growth of the University of California, Davis and the associated resultant pollution which could impact receiving water quality. It is stated that this effect is significant and unavoidable. While the assessment that it is significant is correct, that it is unavoidable is not correct. This kind of problem could be readily avoided if the University of California, Davis was limited in size to its current population, i.e. no further expansion and growth. Another campus could be constructed at a more appropriate location where the wastewater would be handled reliably by appropriate means. Adopting this approach would eliminate the increased pollution associated with the increased growth of UCD.
Another way the "unavoidable" impacts could be addressed is to divert the campus wastewaters to the City of Davis where they would be treated and discharged to a wetlands system which has a greater ability to accept pollutants than Putah Creek.
A third way the so-called "unavoidable" impacts could be avoided is to provide advanced waste treatment for UCD's wastewater discharges. It is possible to treat these discharges so they would not be adverse to Putah Creek and, in fact, with adequate treatment, the discharges could enhance Putah Creek water quality. This would be far more expensive than what UCD plans to do now with its minimum just-get-by approach. The mitigation measures discussed on page 4.1-66 and 4.1-67 do not address readily implementable mitigation measures such as those discussed above. This section is fundamentally flawed and represents more of the highly distorted, inadequate information presented in this EIR which causes it to be a non-credible discussion of issues.
Chapter 4.2 "Air Quality" should be reviewed by an individual with a high degree of expertise in air quality who can independently report on its credibility. If the air quality discussions are as technically weak as the water quality discussions, then this section should also be declared non-credible.
On page 4.2-10, mention is made that there are odors associated with the campus landfills. If these odors trespass out of the landfill property, including crossing the public road, then they are in violation of the Integrated Waste Management Board's requirements for odor control at landfills. The same situation should apply to any odors generated by the sewage treatment plant. There should be no odors from that plant crossing Old Davis Road. If odors are detected by anyone driving along the public highway, then the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration is in violation of its permits and should be appropriately fined if repeated occurrence of the odors occurs. It is important to understand that odors of the type associated with landfills and sewage treatment plants are significant health hazards to some of those experiencing the odors. Those responsible for generating the odors often try to characterize these odors as being aesthetic unpleasantness. However, Shusterman, the physician with the California Department of Health Services, has reported that obnoxious odors cause significant public health damage to individuals experiencing them. Shusterman (1992) "summarized the findings of a conference organized by the California Department of Health Services devoted to 'The Health Effects of Environmental Odor Pollution,' which was held at the University of California, Davis in January 1989." He reported symptoms from the impacts of odors on public health including, "...headache, nausea, throat irritation, and sleep disturbance" and "that odors can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions." A credible EIR on odor issues would have discussed these issues.
Under the discussion of odors on page 4.2-18, it is stated "The proposed project would relocate the existing WWTP, a known source of odor, from the Central Campus (a more densely populated area) to the South Campus (a less densely populated area). The impact is considered less than significant." First of all, it is inappropriate for the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration to allow off-site odors to adversely affect one person, much less a number of people. All individuals, including a single individual, should be protected from off-site odors. In fact, one of the best ways to achieve compliance with regulations is to put odorous facilities in the middle of a highly populated area. By following this approach, odor control would be more likely implemented because of the number of people affected.
The second issue of concern is that odors can be controlled at sewage treatment plants. It is only when treatment plants are operated without adequate odor control that off-site odors occur. Air from treatment plants can be collected and treated for odor control. If this is not possible, then adequate bufferlands between the facilities and any public access area, such as the road or adjacent property, should be provided. Typically, this requires a mile or more of dilution space for highly odorous situations. This dilution space should be owned by the odor generator and cannot include any public roads.
Chapter 4.3, "Hazardous Materials and Public Safety," discusses the potential for what are classified as hazardous materials causing adverse impacts.
On page 4.3-4 there is a discussion of so-called biohazardous materials which include various infectious agents.
Page 4.3-7 third paragraph states,
"Wastewater treatment plants are not required by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) or by the California Department of Health Services (DHS) to monitor for potential infectious agents in untreated or treated wastewater. Monitoring is required, however, for indicator organisms, such as total or fecal coliform organisms."
This is one of the significant deficiencies in the current CVRWQCB and DHS requirements for protection of those who contact recreate in Putah Creek. It has been known since the 1940's that meeting coliform standards for conventionally disinfected wastewaters does not provide public health protection. It was well-known during World War II that chlorination is not an effective way to prevent parasitic protozoan diseases from occurring. This situation has recently been brought home in a resounding way through the Milwaukee Cryptosporidium outbreak where 400,000 people became ill and over 100 people died from consuming drinking water that was adequately treated in accord with current standards, including disinfection with chlorine. The disinfection of wastewaters with chlorination is even less effective since the chloramines formed are poor disinfectants for a number of types of human pathogens.
The statement on page 4.3-8, second paragraph,
"The WWTP effluent is treated to a standard of 23 MPN/100 ml (most probably number per 100 milliliters), which is the current regulatory level established by RWQCB as safe for discharge to the South Fork of Putah Creek."
That statement is in error. It is not considered safe; it is considered of low risk under conditions where those responsible are not particularly concerned about preventing people from becoming ill due to contact recreation in University of California, Davis or other surface waters receiving partially treated wastewaters. The treatment of the UCD wastewaters to achieve 23 MPN/100 ml coliforms is a discharge that is most certainly causing disease in the Putah Creek contact recreators.
A table is presented on the bottom of page 4.3-8 which claims that it purports to present data that pathogens such as Salmonella, Giardia cysts, etc. rapidly disappear in surface waters. While the author has not reviewed the original data, from his own review work for the Cal EPA Comparative Risk Project (Lee and Jones-Lee, 1994b), the information presented in this table overestimates the rate of die-off of the pathogens that can occur in surface waters.
Page 4.3-10 states in the first paragraph, "The proposed WWTP is not required to meet the Title 22 standards because the treated effluent is not being proposed for use as tertiary recycled water suitable for unrestricted reuse." This is more of the gobbledygook that prevails throughout this draft EIR. While technically, from a narrow perspective, Title 22 may not apply, the fact that the public swims and otherwise is in contact with Putah Creek water, which can be 100% sewage effluent in the vicinity of the effluent discharge, should be understood to mean that there is significant potential for any residual pathogens in the wastewaters to cause disease in people. As discussed elsewhere, Title 22 does not necessarily protect public health to the degree required by the CVRWQCB Basin Plan objectives.
While ultraviolet disinfection can be effective, it is subject to considerable maintenance requirements. The use of this approach without back-up chlorine as a supplemental disinfection should require that the University of California, Davis be put on notice that if its UV disinfection fails to achieve the destruction of total coliforms to less than 2.2 per 100 ml, then further discharge of its wastewaters to Putah Creek would be permanently terminated. This should not be another situation where UCD is given a permit and then repeatedly violates the permit while the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board or others look the other way at these violations. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should understand that if they expose individuals who contact recreate in Putah Creek where these individuals could become ill because of inadequate disinfection of its wastewaters that UCD will lose the privilege of discharging wastewaters to Putah Creek.
The discharge of pathogenic organisms, such as enteroviruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts as well as infectious agents used on campus for research, to Putah Creek should be prohibited. The University of California, Davis should be required to provide a highly reliable monitoring program of its effluent that monitors for Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and a variety of types of enteroviruses in order to be certain that treatment provided produces an effluent that is safe for contact recreation under conditions of little or no dilution. It is likely the proposed disinfection associated with the new treatment works will not be adequate. A much more intensive, comprehensive disinfection will be required.
This is another of the issues where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has failed to reliably address the costs of treatment associated with continued discharges to Putah Creek. There is no doubt that with increased regulations that are being implemented, UCD will have to provide far more effective disinfection of its wastewaters before discharged to Putah Creek than it has in the past or proposes to do with its proposed new treatment works. Achieving true public heath protection will significantly increase the cost of waste treatment from those projected by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in its draft EIR.
Page 4.3-23 attempts to relieve UCD of the requirements of adequate disinfection by claiming that other pathogens from other sources would be present in Putah Creek. While that is true, UCD's sources, especially of pathogens, could be a significant contributor to this hazard, and these sources are controllable by providing more appropriate disinfection and/or prohibition of the discharge of UCD's wastewaters to Putah Creek.
Pages 6-13 through 6-17 discuss Alternative 3, pumping the of University of California, Davis wastewaters to the City of Davis wastewater treatment plant. The discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of this approach with respect to water quality is not reliable. There is a potentially significant difference in the potential for adverse impacts to occur associated with the discharge of inadequately treated wastewaters to Putah Creek than for discharges with the City of Davis wastewaters to the wetlands system. With respect to the additional costs associated with constructing sewers, etc. to pipe the sewage from the University of California, Davis campus to the wastewater treatment plant sewerage system, these costs have to be considered in light of the costs that ultimately the University of California, Davis will have to pay to provide for significantly increased treatment than that proposed in order to achieve true protection of the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board should be aware that the public will no longer tolerate the continued blatant pollution of Putah Creek by UCD's wastewater discharges. They will demand that the Basin Plan objectives of no adverse impacts on the designated beneficial uses of Putah Creek by discharges be achieved. This will ultimately require that the University of California, Davis spend the necessary money to provide advanced levels of wastewater treatment in order to protect Putah Creek. The costs associated with the construction and operation of this advanced treatment could, in the long-term, ultimately exceed the costs of the pipes to convey the campus wastewaters to the City of Davis wastewater collection system.
Further, the University of California, Davis L. Vanderhoef administration should understand that the public will keep after this issue until ultimately the administration is forced to terminate its discharges to Putah Creek or provide proper treatment for them. It has already demonstrated its willingness to take political action under conditions where the regulatory agency (the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board) was not implementing the regulatory requirements.
Chapter 7 is devoted to LEHR site issues. Page 7-7, first paragraph, states, "Following an accepted practice that was considered appropriate (and was legal) at the time, the low-level radioactive waste was buried in a total of 19 trenches and 49 pits." While the University of California, Davis may have considered this an appropriate method of waste disposal since it was cheap, it has been known since the 1950's that this method of waste disposal would lead to groundwater pollution. All one had to do since the late 1950's is to read the ASCE manual for landfills to gain this information. The University of California, Davis could have gained this information from research done at the University of California, Berkeley. With respect to it being legal, it is well-known that regulatory agencies, such as the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the State Department of Health Services, the Yolo County Department of Health Services, etc., often do not follow technically valid approaches in developing and implementing regulations. Frequently, it takes a major catastrophe of some kind to force the regulatory agencies to act on issues, even though it has been known for many years before that a catastrophe was in the making.
Table 7-2 contains many of the same errors discussed elsewhere for the presentation of data of this type. The comments will not be repeated here.
On page 7-22 the last paragraph states,
"Although the previously mentioned classes of constituents were present in the surface water and storm water runoff samples, most concentrations were very low. Few constituents were actually in excess of drinking water standards:"
Once again this is more of the distorted presentation of information. The words "very low" are comparative. Comparative to what? The concentrations that are adverse to aquatic life, which should be the issue? No. The comparison to drinking water standard for discharges to or within Putah Creek is inappropriate. The issue that should have been examined is concentrations relative to aquatic life standards which, for a number of chemicals, are orders of magnitude less than drinking water standards.
Page 7-26, the last paragraph mentions the remediation conducted thus far and discusses the removal of wastewater treatment plant sludge which contained various radioisotopes. There is no discussion, however, on what happened to the sludge that was hauled off in tanker trucks during the time the LEHR site was active. It is still unknown where the radioactive sludge produced at the LEHR site was deposited. There is speculation that it was discharged to local farms.
On page 7-29, the next-to-last paragraph discusses the Community Relations Plan. This plan was reviewed by DSCSOC and found to contain significant amounts of DOE propaganda which did not reliably or adequately describe the conditions at the LEHR site. Those interested in a factual discussion of issues pertinent to the LEHR site should contact the Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee (Julie Roth). Copies of all DSCSOC reports and correspondence are available in the Davis Branch of the Yolo County Public Library as well as in the University of California, Davis Shields Library.
Page 7-36, mid-page, states, "Chloroform was also detected in this irrigation well and low concentrations of chloroform have been detected in shallow groundwater approximately 2,000 feet east of the Campus boundary." Once again, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration draft EIR tries to slant the information available in favor of misleading the public's understanding with respect to the pollution of groundwaters by UCD waste management activities. The so-called low concentrations (10 to 20 ug/L) that are reported are well above the detection level and clean-up level that will have to be achieved which is 0.5 ug/L. There are 10-20 ug/L of chloroform in these polluted groundwaters.
Comments on Appendices
Appendix A, page A-17/A-127 is the author's letter to Chancellor L. Vanderhoef concerning how the FEIR for the UCD wastewater treatment plant project should be developed. In numbered item 4-2, the author discusses the fact that a credible EIR must provide full disclosure of potential environmental issues, etc. as presented. Response 4-2 does not address the issues raised. It basically hides behind an inappropriate approach for implementation of regulatory requirements developed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board where it claims, in the next to last paragraph on page A-19/A-129 that it complies with the minimum monitoring requirements. These requirements are obviously not adequate to protect public health and the environment. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has frequently used the approach of stating that they are meeting minimum requirements to try to mislead the public and others into believing they are protecting public health and the environment. Just meeting minimum requirements, especially under the conditions that have prevailed for the past few years where the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and its staff have not been enforcing regulations regarding attainment of NPDES permit conditions as well as Basin Plan objectives, is the approach that is followed by recalcitrant polluters. It is this situation that caused the public to file complaints with Governor Wilson on the waste management practices of the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration that ultimately led to the termination of William Crooks, the former CVRWQCB executive officer. Mr. Crooks, in his November 18, 1996 statement before the Board at his termination hearing, acknowledged that it has been Board policy not to enforce the regulations governing UCD's waste management practices.
This same superficial statement of meeting CEQA requirements is provided in response to comment 4-3. There again, the claim is made that UCD monitors in accord with Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements. These requirements are obviously not adequate to protect Putah Creek water quality. This has now been documented in this draft EIR where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration admits that its campus wastewater treatment plant effluent has been toxic on numerous occasions since 1991. The NPDES permit requires the control of in-stream toxicity, however, apparently no monitoring of in-stream toxicity has been conducted. Without such monitoring, it must be assumed that the effluent toxicity represents in-stream toxicity. The author's request was for an EIR that discusses the issues, not to tell the public that they meet minimum requirements set forth by a Regional Water Quality Control Board that has been looking the other way with respect to the adequacy of UCD's compliance with its NPDES permit. Contrary to the implications of the responses on monitoring, CEQA requirements do not indicate that a project proponent is excused from having to address potential impacts if the project proponent meets the minimal, even though readily acknowledged, inadequate monitoring requirements of the regulatory agencies. The public wants to know what the potential impacts are. Further a credible EIR should provide a discussion of the adequacy of any regulatory requirements to protect public health and the environment. This EIR, however, is far from being credible and clearly does not comply with CEQA requirements for full disclosure of potential impacts.
With respect to the response to comment 4-4, it states, "...the University notes that liquid and solid wastes from the landfills are managed in compliance with state and federal requirements." That statement is not true; UCD has a long history of causing environmental pollution through its landfilling of wastes. This, in turn, affects Putah Creek because of the fact that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, at least, attempts to remediate the polluted groundwaters by providing minimum treatment and then dumping them into Putah Creek where there is a significant potential for adverse impacts on Putah Creek beneficial uses.
With respect to being in compliance with regulatory requirements for its campus landfills, this is a false statement for Landfill No. 4 (its current "west" landfill). Following the adoption of Chapter 15 in 1984, the University was under the obligation to stop polluting groundwaters by landfill leachate from this landfill. This pollution continues today. In fact, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has entered into a Stipulated Agreement with the Yolo County Department of Health that allows UCD to continue to pollute groundwaters at Landfill No. 4 for another five years. Such pollution is in violation of Chapter 15 requirements for no impairment of groundwaters by waste management activities in a Class III landfill.
Response to comment 4-5 states, "UC Davis complies with the regulatory requirements established in its existing permits for the WWTP and the associated activities and programs." This statement is false. UCD has been in violation of its permits for many years due to toxic discharges. Further, there may be a number of other violations associated with the discharge which are not now known because of the inadequate monitoring program that has been carried out by UCD. The statement that UCD complies with its NPDES permit discharge limits reflects a highly distorted, unreliable assessment of the provisions in the permit that require no toxic discharges, no adverse impacts on public health, the environment, wildlife, water resources, etc. UCD through its draft EIR and other documents has now documented its pollution of the environment by its inadequate management of wastes.
Appendix C presents UCD's current NPDES permit for its campus wastewater treatment plant. A review of the conditions set forth in this permit as discussed herein shows that UCD has been in violation of permit conditions for many years. These issues are discussed in detail in these comments.
Appendix D presents Jones & Stokes' report on the "Analysis of Cumulative Water Quality Impacts on the South Fork of Putah Creek." The author (Dr. G. Fred Lee) has provided as a separate document detailed comments on the highly significant technical deficiencies in the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's analysis of the cumulative impacts of its wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff to Putah Creek compared to those that were originally requested by the public in the winter of 1994-1995 and the CVRWQCB in July 1995. The so-called cumulative impact report contained in Appendix D is a highly superficial, technically invalid assessment of cumulative impacts. It is basically a self-serving document designed to try to convince those not knowledgeable in the topic area that UCD's wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff have been in compliance with regulatory requirements. However, this draft EIR documents that UCD has not been in compliance with its regulatory requirements at least since 1991 with respect to controlling toxicity in its wastewater discharges.
Appendix E to the draft EIR presents a discussion of the requirements and status of the UCD pretreatment program. Pages E-1 through E-20 present a discussion of the characteristics of the University of California, Davis pretreatment program. Throughout the discussions in this document as well as in the draft EIR, the emphasis is placed on the adequacy and reliability of this pretreatment program to control water pollution of Putah Creek. As discussed in other sections of these comments, it is naive to assume that effective pretreatment programs can be developed for university laboratories. The author (Dr. G. Fred Lee) having taught in several universities over 30 years, is highly familiar with practices that occur and the significant constraints that exist on university researchers to try to accomplish research under significant budget constraints. There will be few university researchers who will aggressively use the limited funds that are received for research to control the discharge of constituents to the sanitary sewer system where the projects are charged for the cost of control.
The bottom-line issue on the effectiveness of the pretreatment program is whether UCD can control aquatic life toxicity, excessive bioaccumulation and the sanitary quality of Putah Creek so there is no excessive bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek aquatic life, no aquatic life toxicity in the Creek, and the sanitary quality is such that people can ingest the water immediately downstream of the point of discharge under low-flow conditions without fear of acquiring disease.
One of the fundamental flaws with the pretreatment program is that it is not addressing the control of toxicity. By focusing on chemical constituents, it fails to address the basic problem that UCD has with respect to its current wastewater discharges, namely toxicity in its effluent due to unknown causes. UCD should immediately initiate local limits for toxicity from various University campus dischargers which could, if properly implemented, result in no toxicity in the wastewater discharged to the sewerage system at the point of discharge. The implementation of this program, however, would require a massive, highly effective monitoring program far more comprehensive and reliable than anything that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has conducted thus far. Without the adoption of this approach, there is no possibility of UCD achieving a toxic-free effluent.
The University of California, Davis admits in its draft EIR that it is unable to determine the cause of the toxicity that occurs in its campus wastewater effluent discharged to Putah Creek. Therefore, it is unlikely that the local limits for specific chemicals that are being developed are properly addressing the cause of the toxicity. While a pretreatment program and local limit approach is needed, it is unlikely that it will be effective in controlling toxicity problems in UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek. The local limit control approach can be effective for the control of constituents where there are a limited number of locations where discharges of toxic chemicals to a municipal sewerage system can occur. At a large university with many different research laboratories that are utilizing a wide variety of unregulated chemicals, the local limit control approach will almost certainly fail to prevent discharge of toxic effluents from UCD's existing and proposed treatment works. It is virtually certain that UCD will have to provide a significant amount of additional advanced wastewater treatment beyond that planned in its new proposed treatment works in order to effectively control toxicity in its effluent.
The statement is made on page E-9, mid-page, under "Initial Responses and Responses to Repeated Exceedances of Local Limits," "Education and periodic monitoring will be used as the first steps to ensure that facilities meet local limits." Such a statement is unrealistic and does not reflect the real situation that exists in university laboratories and other facilities where a wide variety of hazardous and deleterious chemicals are used.
Table E-2 is an example of an inappropriate presentation of data where both mg/L and ug/L are presented. There is a factor of 1,000 between the two units. There is no need to present both numbers. This reflects a lack of understanding of basic water quality issues by those who developed the table. Further, this table contains errors in the proposed local limits for some chemicals such as the THMs where apparently the 100 ug/L THM limit was used in developing the local limit. What should have been used for THM components is non-detect in the effluent. The information presented on manganese is inappropriate. Manganese has an MCL that should have been included. Further, manganese is an important constituent in that it catalyzes the conversion of chromium III to chromium VI.
In Table E-3, the symbol "XNS" is used which indicates that the pollutant is present "...but no adopted state or federal water quality standards or limits or known inhibition thresholds currently exist for evaluating pollutant concentrations." That statement is unreliable for mercury. Mercury is of concern because it bioaccumulates in fish. If proper measurements of mercury in fish tissue in Putah Creek show that there is no excessive mercury, then there is no problem. If it is found, then through forensic analysis it is necessary to determine whether the mercury is coming from UCD's wastewater discharges. This can be fairly readily accomplished. The same approach should be used for a number of other constituents, such as the chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, PCBs and dioxins. While these constituents may not be measurable in the effluent, they can readily be present in the effluent and cause receiving water impacts. It appears that UCD does not have personnel that have sufficient knowledge of water quality issues to be able to address the potential problems, such as mercury, in a meaningful way.
While not discussed in the draft EIR or in the cumulative impact study report, an important issue pertinent to regulating UCD's wastewater discharges from its campus wastewater treatment plant that needs to be addressed is how UCD and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board staff have evaluated the ability of the campus wastewater treatment plant to receive additional hydraulic and toxicant loading. This situation arose from the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's attempts to develop a cheaper-than-real-cost approach for managing its campus Landfill No. 4 ("west" landfill) leachate-polluted groundwaters as part of a CVRWQCB-ordered groundwater remediation program. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration and CVRWQCB staff in the spring of 1995 developed a proposed approach for managing the leachate-polluted groundwaters by pumping the groundwaters to the surface, air-stripping the VOCs from the groundwaters and then discharging the air-stripped groundwaters to Putah Creek. The public found, as part of reviewing this proposed approach, that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration had not properly characterized or evaluated the potential impacts of pumping the VOC-stripped polluted groundwater to Putah Creek.
Further, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, with the CVRWQCB's staff's approval, proposed to allow the discharge of a number of chemical constituents in the VOC-stripped polluted groundwater to Putah Creek at concentrations that could readily be adverse to the Creek's beneficial uses. In addition, it was found that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration with the support of the CVRWQCB staff had developed a highly deficient wastewater and Putah Creek monitoring program to detect the adverse impacts of the residual constituents in the leachate-polluted groundwater that were proposed to be discharged to Putah Creek. All of these deficiencies were brought to the attention of the CVRWQCB members prior to a June 23, 1995 hearing on these issues. The CVRWQCB, without adequate review of the issues raised by the public, approved this discharge for a one-year period.
Prior to initiating the discharge, the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration "discovered" that the VOC-stripped leachate-polluted groundwater would likely contain excessive chromium compared to the highly lax NPDES permit conditions established by the CVRWQCB at their June 23, 1995 hearing. Another of the CVRWQCB deals was developed without public review where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration was allowed to conduct a "quickie" study which was purported to demonstrate that the "west" landfill leachate-polluted groundwaters could be discharged to the campus wastewater treatment plant without adversely impacting the treatment plant's performance. However, a critical review shows that this evaluation was technically invalid. It ignored the fact that UCD's wastewater discharges from its campus treatment plant were already in violation of the NPDES permit requirements governing the control of toxicity in the effluent discharged to Putah Creek.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration proposed and was allowed to only consider whether the increased flow from adding the leachate-polluted groundwaters to the treatment plant in-flow would disrupt suspended solids and BOD removal by the plant. No evaluation was made of the basic issue that should have been addressed as to whether the increased flow as well as the increased chromium and other toxicants, both regulated and unregulated, would cause increased toxicity in the wastewater effluent discharged to Putah Creek. As discussed in comments that the author (Dr. G. Fred Lee) provided to the CVRWQCB upon learning of this situation, this BOD - suspended solids mentality for evaluating the efficacy of treatment works, while appropriate for the 1960s, is totally inappropriate today. While the author (Dr. G. Fred Lee) has requested that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board correct this error, thus far this Board has not taken action on this topic. This is more of the look-the-other-way approach that has prevailed for years by the CVRWQCB and its staff in regulating UCD's waste management activities.
Similar issues are now being discussed with respect to clean-up of the UCD - DOE LEHR national Superfund site-polluted groundwaters, where one of the alternatives for managing the polluted groundwaters is to pump these groundwaters to the surface, provide some as yet unspecified treatment to them and discharge them, either directly to Putah Creek or to the campus sewerage system. This approach would cause an increased hydraulic and toxicant load to the existing campus wastewater treatment plant and any future treatment plant that is constructed to replace the current treatment plant. It is important that no more behind-the-scenes deals be allowed where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration is able to work out a deal with the regulatory agencies which allows it to discharge inadequately treated LEHR site-polluted groundwaters directly to Putah Creek or to the campus sewerage system which then enters Putah Creek along with the other inadequately treated wastewaters being discharged by the current treatment works.
The 1960s mentality of evaluating the efficacy of treatment works where only BOD and suspended solids removal are considered should no longer be allowed. All potential impacts of the LEHR site-polluted groundwaters on the ability of the treatment works to comply with its current NPDES permit requirements must be properly evaluated as part of any management approach that is adopted for managing the UCD - DOE LEHR national Superfund site-polluted groundwaters. This will require a comprehensive pre-discharge evaluation/characterization of the LEHR site-polluted groundwaters as well as the current discharge characteristics of the existing wastewater treatment plant.
The situation that developed in the fall of 1995 where the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration was able without public and regulatory agency approval to get DOE to stop monitoring the wastewater discharges from its campus wastewater treatment plant to Putah Creek for excessive concentrations of ammonia because the previous monitoring had shown that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration was violating its current NPDES discharge limits cannot be allowed to occur in the future. Rather than try to cover up permit violations, as the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has been doing, a much more comprehensive, reliable monitoring program of the existing treatment plant discharges will have to be conducted prior to discharge of any LEHR site-polluted groundwaters to the campus sewerage system in order to be able to reliably determine, once discharge occurs, whether the discharge causes an increase in the violations of UCD's current NPDES permit limitations. It is the author's understanding that DSCSOC will work vigorously to require that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration, the DOE-Oakland office, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Cal EPA Department of Toxic Substances Control, the California Department of Health Services and the US EPA Region IX properly protect Putah Creek water quality from any proposed remediation approach for managing the pollution of the LEHR site and its associated polluted groundwaters.
Appendices F and G
With respect to Appendix F, "Air Quality Technical Report," because of the significant problems that exist with the water quality technical issues, there is need for someone who has high degrees of expertise to independently review the Appendix F air quality report, as well. This is not an area of expertise of the author.
The same situation applies to Appendix G, "Updated Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions Generated at UC Davis."
Cherry, J. A., "Groundwater Monitoring; Some Deficiencies and Opportunities," Proc. 10th ORNL Life Sciences Lymposium, Gatlinburg, TN, May (1990).
Denton, D., "Region 9 WET Update," US EPA Region 9, San Francisco, CA, December (1995).
de Vlaming, V., "Are Results of Single Species Toxicity Tests Reliable Predictors of Aquatic Ecosystem Community Response? A Review," Presentation at the Southern California Toxic Assessment Group annual meeting, "Bridging the Gap Between Toxicity Testing and Environmental Impacts," San Pedro, CA, December 18 (1995).
Grothe, Dickson, and Reed-Judkins, editors, "Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing: An Evaluation of Methods and Prediction of Receiving Systems Impacts," Proceedings of the Pellston Workshop on While Effluent Toxicity, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, SETAC Press, Pensacola, FL (1996).
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "A Groundwater Protection Strategy for Lined Landfills," Environmental Science & Technology, 28:584-5 (1994a).
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "Impact of Municipal and Industrial Non-Hazardous Waste Landfills on Public Health and the Environment: An Overview," Report for California Environmental Protection Agency's Comparative Risk Project, Berkeley, CA, May (1994b).
Lee, G.F., and Jones-Lee, A., "Public Health and Environment Safety of Reclaimed Wastewater Reuse," In: Proc. Seventh Symposium on Artificial Recharge of Groundwater, University of Arizona Water Resource Research Center, Tucson, AZ, pp. 113-128, May (1995a).
Lee, G.F., and Jones-Lee, A., "Monitoring Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater Usage on Public Parkland Vegetation to Reduce Risks," Water Engineering & Management, 142:28-29-37 (1995b).
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "Practical Environmental Ethics: Is There an Obligation to Tell the Whole Truth?," Published in condensed form "Environmental Ethics: The Whole Truth" Civil Engineering, Forum, 65:6 (1995c).
Lee, G.F., and Jones-Lee, A., "Appropriate Degree of Domestic Wastewater Treatment Before Groundwater Recharge and for Shrubbery Irrigation," AWWA, WEF 1996 Water Reuse Conference Proceedings, American Water Works Association, Denver, CO, pp. 929-939, February (1996).
Shusterman, D., "Critical Review: The Health Significance of Environmental Odor Pollution," Archives or Environmental Health, 47(1):76-87 (1992).
List of Enclosures
Lee, G.F., letter to Karl Longley, August 8 (1996).
Lee, G.F., "Petition to the State Water Resources Control Board to Review the Waste discharge Requirements, Order 96-227, Issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board on August 9, 1996.
Lee, G.F., "Supplement/Addendum to Petition of Order No. 96-227" Issued by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board on August 9, 1996.
Lee, G.F., "Technical Deficiencies in the CVRWQCB Order No. 96-227, Discharge of the UCD "West" Landfill Leachate-Polluted Groundwaters to Putah Creek" Presented to CVRWQCB September 20, 1996 Hearing.
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "Development of a Stormwater Runoff Water Quality Evaluation and Management Program for Hazardous Chemical Sites," November 1996.
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "Environmental Ethics: The Whole Truth," Civil Engineering, Forum, October 1996.
Lee, G.F. and Jones-Lee, A., "Chloroform Maximum Contaminant Levels for Polluted Groundwaters," October 1995.
Lee, G.F., "Comments on 'Chloroform' Report by University of California, Davis - US Department of Energy, Dated May 1996," August 1996.
Lee, G.F., "Overview of LEHR Superfund Site Investigation and Remediation: The Public's Perspective" October 1996.
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